The Way in Which It Landed, Tate Britain, London

Revealed: the secrets of the store cupboard

Late in the day and by accident – I'd forgotten it was there – I have just seen Martin Creed's Work No 850. Walking through Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries, I heard the sound of running feet behind me and, being a south Londoner, waited for a blow to the head. Creed's sprinter – one of four on a 30-minute shift – shot past, compact, beautiful, intent. He pounded on, growing smaller, and disappeared through a door at the end of the gallery. Ninety seconds and three sprinters later, he was back again, as self-absorbed as before; and then again, and again.

It was one of the most wonderful things I have seen in the gallery. The Duveen is an intentionally monumental space, designed to hold big art with big ideas: Greek heroes and athletes, discoboli and charioteers. Here, alive and oddly fragile, was the real thing. Abreast, Creed's sprinters seem statuesque, but as they race down the gallery they fade against the Duveen's marbled massiveness. Built into Work No 850 is a sense that one day the runners will no longer be there. But, for the time being, back they come.

This tied in nicely with my reason for being at the Tate, which was the gallery's latest Art Now show, called The Way In Which It Landed and curated by Ryan Gander. Gander is a master of the accident, his most recent having been provided courtesy of the Tate. Like most art museums, the gallery can show only a fraction of its collection at any time. The rest is held at the Tate Store in Southwark, a fabled place to which Gander was given entry.

What interested him was the haphazard way in which the store's contents are hung on screens, a Steven Pippin photo portrait of 1987 below Gwen John's Young Woman Holding a Black Cat; a still life with mushrooms by Sir William Nicholson over a Fifties Richard Hamilton abstract. Gander has made two copies of these screens for one wall of his one-room show, the others being hung with the work of contemporaries he admires.

It's hard to know what to make of Gander's meta-work, and that is its intention. The material he provides is reassuringly familiar, being mostly figurative paintings in academic frames. What else would you expect in an art gallery? And yet Gander's hang, bereft of school or country, theme, era or palette, is disturbingly unreadable.

The point of all this, I'd guess, is to show that art needs mediating. Treat it like wallpaper and that is what it becomes. Standing in front of Gander's replicated Tate Store screens, you feel your brain scrabbling for a way to look – trying to make implausible connections between Stanley Spencer's Terry's Lane, Cookham and François Morellet's Two Warps and Wefts of Short Lines 0° 90°. (Don't bother: there aren't any.)

The lesson we learn is that art is not prime but contingent – that where and how and in what order we see artworks shape what we make of them. If art is handled as if it doesn't matter, then it doesn't. This vaguely melancholic theme is continued into the present with Aurélien Froment's Théâtre de Poche (2007), a video in which a young man arranges postcards on the glass wall. The cards are of artefacts – Egyptian mummies, Bohemian glass, Carl Andre bricks – and, like Gander's Tate Store screens, they are apparently stuck on any old how.

Froment's short film is about haphazardry, and its inclusion in The Way In Which It Landed feels haphazard. Without quite knowing how, you sense Gander pulling the rug out from under your feet: the present and past elide, artistic certainties swept away. In the background is the poignant sense that all art – Froment, Gander, this very work – will one day end up in the Tate Store. The only hope is that it will be rescued by a future conceptualist; that its disappearance, like that of Creed's sprinters, is only temporary.

Tate Britain, London SW1 (020-7887 8888), to 26 Oct

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home