I was lucky enough to visit the Psycho Buildings exhibition at the Hayward Gallery yesterday. The most bizarre installation – and therefore the one which appears in this blog – was by Austrian collective Gelitin.
Normally, Proceeding and Unrestricted With Without Title [sic] turned one of the gallery’s outdoor sculpture terraces into a 1.2m deep boating lake, complete with a floating dock and several weirdly-shaped two-person rowing boats. When I arrived, the queue was estimated at about twenty to thirty minutes. However, rain showers meant that the exhibit had to close. Yes: health and safety regulations meant that a water-based exhibit was closed by – er – falling water.
I waited nearly an hour to get in, and was glad I did. The boats were extraordinary in themselves: about a metre deep, half a metre wide, and perhaps 1.5m long – like sitting in a tea chest. For stability and buoyancy there were outriggers with floats made from large water cannisters.
Gelitin's rooftop boating lake, Hayward Gallergy
I set off for my voyage with a complete stranger, whose husband and daughter were in another vessel (pictured). We agreed that it was the most fantastically surreal experience – rowing a misshapen boat across the roof of the Hayward whilst Big Ben chimed three, the London Eye turned, trains rolled into Charing Cross, and the Thames slipped by.
Of the hands-on installations, the second-most-fun was Tomas Saraceno’s Observatory, Air-Port-City; a large inflatable dome. Going into the dome wasn’t the fun bit – going up onto the top of it was. Sadly, the surface had been worn so much that it had lost a lot of its clarity. But floating above the observers down below was curiously relaxing (health and safety restriction – no sharp objects; not even a watch. And no one under the age of sixteen).
To my surprise, there was a queue for Venetian, Atmospheric, 2007 by Tobias Putrih. The work was a temporary cinema showing short movies about other artists’ takes on architecture. Putrih’s ‘biomorphic’ (no, really; that’s what he calls it) design disappointed, and the transition of the ceiling from sky-blue to night with stars didn’t work (clue: turn the red safety lights down. Oh, we’re back on frigging health and safety ruining exhibitions again…).
Some poncy middle-class ex-hippie pseudo-artistic (not that I have anything against them) jerks left just a minute after parking their arses in front of the screen. (Why bother, you shallow oafs?) I caught Chris Burden’s Beam Drop, and I knew I was amongst friends in the back row when we howled with delighted laughter as one titanic steel beam after another was dropped at random into a bed of wet concrete to convincing and comic clangs.
Do Ho Suh deserves an honourable mention for his Fallen Star 1/5, which was a one-fifth scale model of a traditional Korean house crashing into the house he lived in when he first moved to the US. The interior detail of the apartments in the American house was wonderful in its detail (complete with mini packets of Ritz crackers). Rachel Whiteread could have learnt a lot from it: her exhibit, Place (Village), consisted of three hillsides of dolls houses in a darkened room. The houses were lit from the interior. It would have been far spookier if Whitread could have been bothered to put in the same amount of effort as Do Ho Suh, and furnished the interiors.
NB: When I first posted this, I was honoured to receive a comment by Chris Burden himself. Unfortunately this was lost during transfer to new hosting.