Decision is Carsten Höller’s first ever UK retrospective, and also the last show at the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery before it temporarily closes for two years for renovations.
As a fan of art – and especially instillations! – and a lover of the Hayward (it’s hosted several of my favourite shows over the years) I knew I had to get myself to this exhibition. So when my mate Emma said she had a plus one for a member’s preview night, you know I said yes.
Höller is an experimental Belgian artist who originally worked as a scientist, and is best known in the UK for Test Site, his 2006 piece at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall of metallic double-helix slides, which guests could slide down. Decision is his first UK retrospective, and like Test Side it’s totally interactive.
Throughout the entire exhibition, starting from the moment of arrival, guests are faced with a number of choices: which door to enter, which corridor to walk down, to take the pill or not… Höller’s work creates the impression of a world where nothing is quite as it seems, both figuratively and literally.
I found this exhibition felt like an incredible playground for grownups; a chance to leave reality (and my bag – there are free lockers for that!) at the door and explore what was in front of me and question just what I was seeing. The best way I can describe the experience is to remember back to when you were a child, learning about the world and figuring out how everything works together and just how you fit in to the bigger picture. Everything is possible; limitations haven’t yet been learned.
One of the highlights for me were the Upsidedown Glasses, which do exactly what they say on the tin. Put the glasses on and whoosh! You’ve got a new, dizzying, perspective of the view from the rood at the Hayward Gallery. And if you get the chance, be sure to take a selfie with the glasses on – your eyes will look upside down from behind them!
The show culminates in Höller’s Isomeric Slides, accessed from the Hayward Gallery’s roofs, which double as the exit for the exhibition. (And the reason you should leave your bag in the lockers at the entrance – so you can enjoy the slide!) The slides offer an invitation to lose control as you whizz down to the bottom, and are an excellent way to complete the experience. According to Höller, a slide is ‘a sculpture that you can travel inside’ and a ‘device for experiencing a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness’.
Decision is on at the Hayward Gallery until 6th September, open daily. For more details and ticket prices, please visit: http://carstenholler.southbankcentre.co.uk/