Today I went to see the current exhibition on at the Hayward Gallery in London. It’s a solo show featuring the work of Carsten Holler (imagine the umlaut) who is probably most remembered in London for his slide installation at Tate Modern some time ago.
(I’m not going to lie, the slide that you see in the photo above was the main reason that swung it for me.)
The exhibition is a little pricey (even with the student discount) unless you are an Art Fund Member. (I may write a post about this a different time.) With this discount it only cost a cool £6.75 to get in (otherwise it is £15 for a full paying adult.)
Now I came out of this exhibition thinking on thing: this is an art exhibition for people that don’t like art. And that’s because a lot of it didn’t feel like art, because the form the artworks take can be interpreted as closer to objects of play than the preconceived notion of ‘art’. So not necessarily a bad comment, or a good one to be fair. Some of the time it felt as if this work was just offering itself up the public, in a desperate attempt to be liked. This attitude towards making art is definitely one I enjoy, however, it can easily feel gimmicky and cheap. And occasionally, I felt like some of the pieces did this. At times it felt like more of an amusement park, than pieces of art.
However, there were two stand out pieces for me. The first, was the very first piece you were confronted with. And confronted is completely the right word. ‘Decision Corridors’ basically does what it says on the tin. Immediately, after stepping foot into the exhibition you are in a corridor. A metal corridor that very quickly turns pitch black. You are given instructions before you enter. Walk slowly. Keep one hand on the wall at all time. I felt like I was in some sort of Greek Myth. Anyway, you slowly negotiated your way around this one way in one way out maze, until it spat you out into the florescent lighting of the gallery onto the next part of the exhibition.
The second, is, you’ve guessed it, the slides. ‘Isometric Slides’ are big. And fun. And reminiscent of fair grounds. Once you decide to go on these, there is no going back. These are the point of no return. Basically, it’s how you leave the exhibition. And what a way to do so. Leaving in style. (Who cares about arriving anyway.) What I’m trying to get at, is make sure you’ve seen all the other parts of the exhibit before you slide on down. I found myself giggling/squealing as I went down (it was much more bumpy than I thought it would be) and it was much fun. I didn’t really think about much though apart from how I can kind of see bits of London as I slide down this thing, and of course the bump thought and wondering what I sounded like to other people. It was kind of cool to think that I was the sliding down person that someone saw, just as I did before I went inside. (As a participant of the slide, you do essentially become the spectacle.)
All in all, I’m glad I went. However, I’m not sure I would have paid £15 to see it. (I do understand the reasoning for this cost – it’s purely because of the amount of invigilators needed for each artwork, due to health and safety I imagine, because they are very participatory and things could easily go wrong if someone wasn’t there to ensure the smooth running of the exhibition and the protection of the artworks.) But if you like art disguising itself in something else, or appearing to be something its not, this might be the exhibition for you.