Friday, 17 July 2009

Walking In My Mind

The Hayward Gallery's summer exhibition for 2009, Walking In My Mind, features several artists' attempts to portray the inside of their own minds. I like installation art in general - there's something very appealing about being able to walk into a picture. Installation art is also a perfect medium for this particular topic. In one sense, any installation, or any art form, is a representation of at least part of the mind of the artist - after all, where else can it have come from? However many of these exhibits take a very literal approach and attempt to portray both the content and the process of mind.

Jason Rhoades' work, The Creation Myth, for example fills a room with a bizarre, Heath Robinson-like machine representing the creative process - there's a trail of cables taking you through a series of sub-processes. It's a disturbing exhibit; sound, movement and smoke effects keep you uneasy, and Rhoades uses a lot of pornographic imagery - this has led to some discussion in the press but is completely appropriate in the context of portraying the range of thoughts that pass through a human mind, or the creative process; to my mind it also makes the work honest and personal.

Yoshitomo Nara also takes a literal approach, building a one-room house storing memories and personal, meaningful possessions, while you can explore Thomas Hirschhorn's mind in the form of a network of caves made from cardboard and tape. Yayoi Kusama creates a more surreal, beautiful experience - walking into a red and white polka dot universe which extends onto this balcony:

There are also exhibits by Charles Avery who continues to expand his fictional Island, including this artefact of it's culture - a mysterious, dimensionally transcendent cabinet.

Science fiction also grapples with this theme from time to time - say, Stephen King's novel Dreamcatcher where an alien presence banishes a character into his own mental space, or The Cell, where a psychiatrist literally enters her patient's thoughts to diagnose and heal them. It's a difficult concept to make convincing, just as it's difficult to invent realistic dreams or simulate insanity, and both these examples are flawed. This exhibition succeeds because each installation seems to communicate something real, and surprisingly frank, about the mind of its' creator.


Molly said...

Thanks for the report! As a result of your write-up, am now planning to go and see that exhibition.

I went to "Psycho Buildings" -- the one where they flooded one of the balconies -- last year and loved it. FWIW, a couple of pics taken from a rowing boat on the flooded balcony can be found at:


Sci-Fi Gene said...

Psycho Buildings was awesome - thanks for sharing the photos! I was there on a sunnier day though :)

Molly said...

I finally went to see this on Monday. I liked it a lot, but not as much as Psycho Buildings. (I guess -- for me -- nothing will ever beat that rowing lake.) Though sitting outside on the terrace with the polka dots was *almost* as good.

FWIW, my favourite installation this time round was the cardboard cave. I went through it several times, thinking: "Just clear out the drinks cans and even out the floors, and I could happily live here. Fantastic riverside location, high ceilings, good-sized rooms..."
If it had been a flat, I would have been very tempted to make an offer.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Indeed. And once that cardboard was all out the way - mitigating the fire risk - I'd offer to flatshare...

...almost like buying a rollercoaster and keeping it stationary?