Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Psycho Buildings

Having enjoyed the free exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, we still had some time to kill so we forked out for the one you had to pay for. The art works in Psycho Buildings are said to be "by turns visceral, pungent, meditative, absurd, threatening and atmospheric... and probe the ways in which built structures shape our imaginative and physical lives". They might have added "and some are bit of a giggle too", but anyway the exhibits are mostly fascinating and in some cases it is actually possible, with some help from the catalogue, to grasp what the artist is getting at.

One of the exhibits we liked very much, Fallen Star 1/5 is the first chapter of a project in progress by the Korean artist Do Ho Suh which documents the cultural displacement that he experienced in moving from Korea to the USA. He sees his sudden transplantation as analogous to the Kansas cyclone that transports Dorothy to the land of Oz, and presents a 1/5 scale replica of his childhood home crashing into the apartment building he lived in when he first arrived in the United States. Here are photos of the front and the back.

Psycho Buildings is nowhere near as baffling as an exhibition I saw years ago at the Pompidou Centre. It was called, I think, Les Immatériaux (abstract things, intangibles) and seeing it was an unforgettable experience of which I remember nothing at all: this is as it should be, for most of the exhibits were exactly that, empty spaces configured in significant ways or in some cases not configured at all. The whole thing had a sort of profound superficiality, and was the very epitome of all that modern French intellectualism has given to the world.

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