I guess the name ‘El Tanque’ (the tank) should have been enough of a clue but I was thinking in the neighbourhood of fish tank and so was taken aback when the full sized oil storage tank came into view; gleaming lime green and silver in the glaring midday sun.
We followed the road around the perimeter circumference of ‘El Tanque’ and arrived at the sort of tunnel that normally takes you from an aircraft to the arrivals lounge. This one led from the bridge to the car park and the entrance to Espacio Cultural El Tanque.
We asked the smiling receptionist if the exhibition was open.
“Yes, of course,” she beamed and handed us each a small set of square cards pinned in one corner so that they fanned out like playing cards. The cards were all black and on the front in white was a skull and crossbones with the skull wearing a gas mask and the words ‘Keroxen 09’ written underneath.
As we walked through the entrance I flicked through the cards to find out what the exhibition was about but the light
was too dim to make out the wording on the black background so I gave up. We walked up a slope and, aside from floor level lamp shades hanging above jam jars placed around the perimeter floor inside each of which was a single letter of the alphabet, there was darkness.
I don’t just mean it was dark, I mean complete sensory deprivation darkness.
Giggling, Jack and I turned on our heels and went back down the slope realising that we’d wandered inadvertently into the actual oil tank rather than the exhibition.
Following the only other corridor past the toilets we arrived at…the exit.
Okay. Now we were perplexed.
Has the nice girl at reception forgotten to put the lights on we wonder?
Now on the brink of hysteria and trying to muffle giggles, we head back into ‘the tank’ and inch our way, arms outstretched ahead of us like contestants in a game of Blind Man’s Buff, further into the space.
Gradually our eyes adjust slightly to the dark and we can make out several long, black cloths hanging from the ceiling to head height in rows leading into the centre of the tank. As we get nearer we can see that each cloth has a single sentence written on the bottom of it, seemingly random sentences like “Have you heard the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine?” and “A city creates experiences for those who live in it”.
I carefully make my way to the centre of the tank where a dozen chairs are set out in rows and I take a seat. I can see and hear nothing. It’s admittedly peaceful if somewhat spooky, but I am completely unenlightened.
We inch our way back to the lamplit jam jars and out.
“It’s very dark in there,” we say to the nice girl on the door.
“Of course,” she smiles.
Sometimes, art is just too obscure for me.