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The Tate Protest

Tate Modern, London, 27th April 2006

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On a beautiful Spring morning, three men arrived at Tate Modern to attempt the unthinkable: an ascent of the South Face of Whiteread in the Turbine Hall. Ms Whiteread had spent months assembling 14,000 resin casts of an ordinary cardboard box into an impressive pile standing some sixty-seven feet high. Gustav Temple, Michael Attree and Torquil Arbuthnot gasped audibly upon first witnessing Whiteread, for it appeared to them to be the most unassailable monolith they had ever seen.

They began their ascent by studying the helpful literature supplied by Tate Modern, which explained: "The box had an emotional resonance for Whiteread. She began to explore the universal quality of the box in its widespread use as she came upon them squashed in the street, stacked in the back of a lorry or used more inventively such as for solar ovens or children's play houses. Massed together, the boxes invite parallels with the museum as a keeper of collective memory."

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With such grand thoughts filling their altitude-sick minds, tragedy struck the party only ten feet from the summit. The tinny sounds of a megaphone could be heard rising through the mist. Looking down, the three men saw the base of Whiteread surrounded by security guards. Their terms were clear: descend instanter or we'll call the constabulary. A swift scrabble took the trio to the summit, where they planted the Union flag, drank a chilled martini and shared a celebratory briar, before finally agreeing to descend. Our national heroes were summarily ejected from the building, yet their faces displayed nothing but pride. They knew they had entered the history books as the first Englishmen to conquer the South Face of Whiteread, and nobody could take that away from them.