FROM 10th JUNE TO 6th September, the latest exhibition from Belgian artist Carsten Holler, Decision, graces the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank. It explores decision-making and perception, and features such installations as pitch-black giant air ducts through which visitors must navigate and goggles which turn the world upside down.
The £15 entrance fee might seem a little steep given the time actually spent in the exhibition, but it was a reasonable price.
If you’re not an art aficionado don’t be deterred. This isn’t one of those exhibitions during which you spend most of your time standing in front of a painting with a bemused expression until you get a headache. It’s varied and interactive, and it’s fun. One of the installations consists of pairs of television sets on which identical twins say subtly different phrases. It’s the sort of thing that leads you to feel that someone has extracted your brain and given it a good shake before popping it back in your skull.
There is a virtual reality world–brought to life by a headset–which slowly begins to split in half, creating a kind of double-vision effect; a pair of beds which never stop moving; a large spinning frame topped with paper mushrooms; a mound of red-and-white pills that drop that from the ceiling every three seconds and a giant die through which children can crawl. There’s also a device that asks the user to pinch their nose and stimulate their biceps with a vibrating rod so that it feels as if your nose is growing larger or smaller; a memory game consisting of 32 pairs of digitally-altered photos; and four flickering TV screens.
You can leave the gallery via the stairs, but it’s far more fun to grab a sack and go down one of two helix-shaped metal slides. How many in times in your life have you left an art gallery via a slide?
Some of the installations may not be to everyone’s taste. Some visitors seemed to find the upside-down goggles nauseating, and others struggled to feel any sensation in the nose-growing installation. Another downside is that you may have to wait forty minutes or more for the Flying Machines installation, which has the participant lie horizontally and be suspended over the edge of the building.
It’s worth the trip and it’s something new and unusual to do at this time of year in London. You may leave feeling thoughtful (if a little disorientated), and at the very worst, at least you got to go down a big metal slide.