Steve McQueen at Tate Modern: Marrying film and the sensory real

'The fact of the matter is I’m interested in the truth’

An easy way for the hours to slip away during lockdown is with our screens. Switching between Youtube and Netflix, trying to pass the time. Without the library or a cafe, it is difficult to stay focused, and the mind wanders. Before it was closed, Tate Modern presented a retrospective on Steve McQueen, with 14 compelling works to think about and compare viewing experiences: gallery versus sofa.

Born in London, 1969, McQueen studied fine art at Chelsea College of Art and Goldsmiths College. He is now a celebrated director for four feature films including the Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) and most recently, the heist thriller Widows (2018). Long shots and ellipses, visually rich careful camera movements, as well as effective narratives highlight a deftness in McQueen’s films. Hunger (2008), the gripping story of Irish Republican prisoner Bobby Sands played by Michael Fassbender, contains a 17-minute unbroken shot between Sands and a priest attempting to dissuade him from leading a hunger strike. The scene is a bold piece of cinema, that requires a filmmaker who identifies as an artist.

Installation view of Steve McQueen, Ashes (2002-2015) at Tate Modern, 2020 (Courtesy of the artist, Thomas Dane Galle