As one of the most indecisive people ever, it’s a tad ironic that I was desperate to visit Decision, Carsten Höller’s latest installation at the Hayward Gallery in London’s Southbank Centre. This is an interactive exhibition with emphasis on the active: think less abstract paintings, and more upside down goggles, flying machines, and swirly whirly slides.
Höller invites the audience to, quite literally, make decisions, and in doing so he explores our decision-making processes and general psyche. It doesn’t take much to work that out; it says it in the free leaflet you’re given upon entry. I want to share my experience without giving away too much, or ruining the element of surprise in case you’re intending on going – which I think everyone should, by the way – so I thought I’d just share a few photos and a line or two on our visit. Almost as soon as you’re into the exhibition you come across a mound of pills, where one has fallen and will continue to fall from the ceiling every three seconds to explore the passing of time. By the end of the exhibition over 1.2 million pills will have been dropped, and each visitor is invited to take one from the pile to keep. Me and Elliot weren’t quite sure whether that meant to take one home or to literally pop a pill, but we decided to exercise caution and keep it as a memento of the exhibition instead. Here we really did have to make a decision: whether to queue for an hour to ‘fly’ around London or not. I hate to say that we were both led by our empty stomachs and the thought of lunch afterwards, so we decided to give the queuing time a miss. But those who were flying seemed to be having a great time! There’s so much else to see in this sensory playground that you don’t really have to do everything to get the full experience, so we played about with the virtual reality goggles and explored the mirrored hall instead. Minimal queuing time required. My favourite device had to be the upside down goggles. Whilst waiting in the queue we were laughing at the people outside who could barely walk when they had the goggles on, obviously far too confident in our own ability to walk whilst virtually ‘upside down’. Little did we know it actually is an incredibly disorienting experience, so you’re guaranteed to struggle at first, but also to laugh hysterically whilst doing so. And of course the thing that probably attracts over half of its visitors: the slides. In the interests of health and safety there are no loose items allowed, including cameras, but you don’t really need photos to convey how fun a slide is… Especially one cascading several floors of this London landmark! It was a fitting exit to an exhibition where Alice in Wonderland meets modern day (and futuristic) technology.
The exhibition is only around until September 6th, and there is so much going on at Southbank this summer that if you’re in London you’d be silly to miss out! Whether you’re stuck on babysitting duty looking for fun days out, or just want to unleash the kid inside you, this is a great place to do it and to soak up a bit of artistic culture whilst doing so. The decision is yours! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)