SUPERFLEX in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.
The Turbine hall was completely encompassed by a sea of swings – a childlike fantasy – enabling grown adults to return to their playful youth all in the name of Art. I have found that the commission blurred the lines between Gallery and everyday public space, providing a location to relax, switch off and be freed from the fast pace of the city.
‘Superflex asks if we all swing at the same times, can we change the way the earth spins?…. Superflex think of this as a space to contemplate the forces at work in our everyday lives. They imagine people might want to gather here to think about whether it is the weight of gravity of the economy that pulls us down’– Tate Modern
Although the exhibition was asking the public to contemplate the forces which are at play in our every day lives, I felt that this became a more subconscious consequence of observing a hypnotic sphere dangle from the ceiling rather than the goal of the excersize itself. The curation of the space, using soft carpets and placing the ball on a sloping floor, encouraged people to spend time in the space. Many were lying down in the space and where they usually might be concerned with taking a photo or film and quickly moving on, they relaxed into an extended stay. I felt that this encouragement for a lengthy interaction with the work is what brought into question the forces of life and deeper reflections into their own purpose/ situation. The work formed as an escape from their monotonous régimes.
The Commission asks us to answer a series of questions:
- Feel free to lie down on the carpet below the pendulum. Watch, rest and reflect – will you stay or go?
- Imagine the swing as a human -powered pendulum. How can we empower each other through movement?
- SUPERFLEXX began with three artists who now collaborate globally. How does a movement of three became a movement of many?
- Follow the orange swing line as it weaves out of the Turbine Hall. Does the line make any surprising connections?
- The swings are designed and produced to be used all over the world. In what way does economic productions tie the world together?
- The Turbine Hall is a unique place. How does it invite us to imagine and engage in public spaces?
- Meet new people as you move through the gallery and outside. How does chance meetings turn into meaningful connections?
Interestingly most people who were participating with the work didn’t even read the jargon written by the Tate. I found this interesting because the interest of the work became less about concept and more about the enjoyment of interaction. Many didn’t need to be told how to interact with the work (as they might have done if viewing a piece of minimalistic painting). It was instinctual.
The relationships which formed around the space were also incredibly insightful. People wanted to que around swings to have their turn to participate with the art. It isn’t that they hadn’t experience what it was like to sit on a swing before, but there was a new excitement surrounding the environment and curation of the space. I found create enjoyment in observing the expression of adults waiting for children to get off the swings, clearly hoping they would finish their turn soon! Likewise I noticed the guilt of adults as they sat on the swings whilst children were eagerly waiting their turn- these sessions were significantly shorter. There was almost a frustration that somehow the responsibilities of being an adult were still in play. They almost seemed inescapable.