Carsten Höller’s latest body of work “Decision” consists of 24 large-scale installations that become an intrinsic part of Hayward Gallery, London. Most of the works are interactive and each gives the audience the opportunity to choose their own experience of the exhibition. Ends 6 September 2015.
Beware of FOMO* at “Decision” exhibition
For those that suffer *Fear Of Missing Out [FOMO], “Decision” from Carsten Holler might be a difficult art show to navigate. For starters, one must choose one of two doorways to enter. I stand corrected; there is a third entrance for anyone smitten with claustrophobia. Did I make a mistake? I can hear people shrieking with laughter in the other tunnel. I am not sure what’s funny, I can’t see a thing and who is touching me!
Ah light at the end at last. Oooo! How can I control the giant magic flying mushrooms? Do I want to? Watch out, they’re swinging this way! From the start, some inner child takes over and it feels imperative as well as a slight sensory overload to try and see everything, all at once.
I feel as uninhibited as a toddler in front of this “Pill Clock“, an untidy pile of captivating red and white. What happens if I take and swallow one of these capsules… or not? (Answer: I put one in my pocket instead and at the time of this writing, haven’t found it again.)
These and so many more were the decisions that must be made when going through Höller’s show, with an over-riding theme that seemed to be about, well, riding things, usually in pairs, and many of the options set before the viewer are hyper-coloured and seemed to be fraught with some kind of risk, even if at the same time it also looks like so much fun.
But don’t take yourself or the art too seriously; how can you when confronted by “Two Flying Machines“. You first doff a helmet that seems to be overkill, shimmy into an apron that looks like you’re about to get a dental x-ray, and once you’re ready, you are hooked into this silly contraption so you can float three times slowly over the Waterloo bridge. Oh, go on, you know you want to!
Next on the decision tree are “Upside Down Goggles” that turn your world upside-down and make the wearer dizzy – my head is suddenly 10 times larger than pre-goggles. I am not sure if this apparatus “helped me see the real world” as Höller intended but I certainly felt unbalanced while peering through them and for quite a few minutes after. I must say, however, that even though I feel nauseous, I am sure I look fabulous.
Flights of fancy, scintillating dark corridors, giant illusions…though not extremely profound nor at all serious, a person can let go and have some fun here, and I recommend “Decision” particularly to those grown-ups who are prone to forget to play once in a while. Definitely exit via the “Isomeric Slides“, where “a slide is not a slide but a work of art” as well as a functional, interactive object. Wheeeee!
(No, those are not the sounds of a dolphin let loose down the chute…it’s definitely a human in the realm of “madness”, somewhere between joy and loathing for this slide, until the end, and it’s definitely joy…)
More links and information about ‘Decision’ and Carsten Höller
- Learn more about “Decision” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London
Reviews of “Decision” at Hayward Gallery
- Laura Cumming for the Guardian writes: “Despite his famous spiralling slides, Carsten Höller offers little to jolt the heart or mind” – 14 June 2015
- “Fun but largely forgettable” by Rupert Hawksley for The Telegraph – 9 June 2015 – 3/5 stars
- “Channels Willy Wonka, but the spectacle becomes boring” in the Independent by Zoe Pilger – 14 June 2015
- “Crowd-pleasing show can transform our physical experience” by Ben Luck in the Evening Standard – 9 June 2015 – 4/5 stars
- BBC’s Will Gompertz meets the artist – “it is not enough to go and see an art exhibition – it is much more rewarding to become part of it” – 9 July 2015
- “Kicks inhibitions to the curb…dive in for the most fun you’ll have all summer!” in Culture Whisper Magazine – July 2015 – 4/5 stars
- “Requires you to use your hands a lot” in TimeOUT London – undated – 4/5 stars
Exhibition details: Hayward Gallery presents “Decision” by Carsten Holler in Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX. Paid entrance, step-free access.