Carsten Höller – Tate 2006

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Every time I go it just manages to blow me away with its scale and scope, and yet with its openness and refreshing lack of hautiness so common in modern art galleries.

I love seeing the tourists’ faces when they come upon the Turbine Hall. No doubt, they have been dragging their families from tour to museum to exhibition and you can imaging the kids whinging that they would really rather be having a Happy Meal thankyou very much. But that is all forgotten, and as the American art students studiously take notes, Grannies strain their necks and bepolonecked German art critics reflect, a dozen kids whizz around the exhibition imagining they are space fighters. This has happened three times in as many years (before with Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whitbread), and it is a credit to the curators that they can draw in such disperate groups.

This time though. This time. Wow. Never have I been challenged with such a physical, kinetic assault that at the same time piqued my engineering, art and whizz bang kiddo sensibilities. Forget all that – I WANT TO GO AGAIN!

For Carsten Höller, the experience of sliding is best summed up in a phrase by the French writer Roger Caillois as a ‘voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind’. The slides are impressive sculptures in their own right, and you don’t have to hurtle down them to appreciate this artwork. What interests Höller, however, is both the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the ‘inner spectacle’ experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend.

One thing I love – it’s free entry and the dryest route between the South Bank and the St. ‘Blade of Light’ Pauls Bridge … take 2 minutes or 2 days, as you please


It is quite popular – the image of kids egging their Mums on to the slide, and then the shrill scream of fear and joy as they hurtle down the tube was very amusing … almost as amusing was to sit near the bottom and watch people land, their faces lit up, before they allowed themselves to compose themselves once more as they walk away.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted 2007/01/19 at 23:17 | Permalink


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