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Now On At the Hayward Gallery | Carsten Höller's 'Decision'
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Now On At the Hayward Gallery | Carsten Höller's 'Decision'

Picture of Jessica Barnfield
Updated: 29 April 2016
In what will be their final exhibition before a two-year renovation period, the Hayward Gallery is hosting a major survey of the work of renowned experiential artist Carsten Höller, entitled Decision.

Decision is neither a retrospective nor an entirely new installation, and features pieces which Höller fans will be familiar with including The Pinocchio Effect (1994) and Upside Down Goggles (1994-2009) which offer the wearer an alternative view of reality.

Changing the way we look at the world around us is really the crux of this exhibition, and Höller asks the public to enter a realm where they are presented with options and yet remain in a precarious state of flux. Entering either through doors marked ‘A’ or ‘B’ (the signs of which change every few seconds) visitors must navigate a dark sloping tunnel, changing the reliance on their senses from sight to touch and sound. Emerging into the light, visitors are confronted with Höller’s new work Flying Mushrooms (2015), truly making you feel like you’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole and into wonderland.

And things really just get more fun, and even stranger, from there.

Throughout the exhibition, the themes of doubling and forked paths force visitors to choose between seemingly identical options, allowing them to inhabit the space between one path and another as you search for certainty, and try to reason decisions that are primarily instinctual, random and nonsensical.

A highlight of the exhibition has to be Flying Machines (2015), a fantastic interactive sculpture that allows visitors to soar over London and gain a new perspective on the stream of commuters and tourists bellow. Like so many of Höller’s pieces, Flying Machines turns the visitor into part of the artwork allowing them to reflect on their status in the world as both observer and actor. As Höller himself playfully notes, the particular experience of Flying Machines leaves the participant feeling both elated and slightly embarrassed, ‘strung up like a sack of potatoes’ in front of the other gallery visitors.

Isometric Slides (2015) is another key piece, and is perhaps the piece that attracts the most attention. Spiraling down the side of the Hayward Gallery, the slides are at once a mesmerizing sculptural installation, a device for exiting the gallery and also a way to have fun, experiencing what the artist describes as ‘an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness.’

Höller identifies his favorite part of the exhibition as being the experience people have in the gallery, as the visitors themselves are an essential element of his work. It is not the pieces themselves, but rather our interaction with them and their interaction with the architectural space that make Höller’s artwork come to life in a way that is both fun and thought provoking.

Decision will run from 10th June until 6th September. Tickets can be booked online here.

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London +44 20 7960 4200