The Hayward Gallery is closing very soon for a complete refurb and the final show has been billed as a summer must see, so off I went to see what it was all about.
I have to say I’ve seen Carsten Höller’s work before and have always been a bit undecided about it – so wondered if maybe “Decision”, his latest show would change that. I had also missed out on the infamous Tate modern slides installation in 2007 and this exhibition included a set of slides attached to the side of the Hayward, so with them in mind I had booked my ticket quite a while ago.
The works focus on the choices you make and how you interact with them: Take entrance A or B? Push the “Flying mushrooms” left or right? Swallow the small red and white capsule* from “Pill Clock” or leave not knowing? I started out with a quite a high level of excitement and anticipation, with a degree of trepidation as well!
Choosing door A, I entered a narrow metal passage way which became darker and more disorientating as I trailed my way, using just my hands on the wall, around the twisting path. At the time I think I was the only person in the intertwined tunnels so didn’t get any sense of others nearby as they wove around the gallery – this gave it a very isolated, eerie feel and I was pretty pleased to pop out into the first gallery. It was then I discovered that photography was allowed (not usual in the Hayward) so I ducked out, courtesy of the very nice staff to grab my phone (excuse picture quality!). Heading back in I was keen to get going again.
Disappointingly, my overall sensation was one of being underwhelmed by the exhibition. Fundamentally the decision the visitor has to make is “do I engage with this work or not”? Whilst a few pieces captured my attention, overall I found my focus wandered and in several cases of overlong queues my decision was to simply pass by. And the slides – by the end I just wanted to leave the quickest way possible. I exited through the gift shop.
(*It’s still in my bag)
©Chez l’abeille 2015