When I first heard that Carsten Holler (pictured, left) was having a solo show at the Hayward Gallery, I was more than a little sceptical. The slides he put up at the Turbine Hall in 2006-7 turned the place into a fair ground, and I found them very silly. When I recently saw similar slides crawling up the facade of the Hayward, I cringed.
Yet I was pleasantly surprised by "Carsten Holler: Decision" (as the show is called). True, Holler has turned the Hayward into an amusement park. But why should art and fun be mutually exclusive, as Hayward's director Ralph Rugoff (pictured, right) points out?
The show is full of experiential installations: a dark tunnel by which you enter; flying machines on the terrace, that you get strapped into; goggles that make you see the world upside down. My personal favorite (and not just because the title sounds like my name): "Fara Fara," a cool dual-screen video on the music scene in Kinshasa. As you meander through the exhibition, you start feeling light-headed and a little disoriented.
Holler told journalists that his aim was to entertain. And as an artist, he's got that particular niche all to himself. He hopes to take entertainment out of the grip of the entertainment industry ("the enemy") and bring it into the museum. Whether the result is art is a question that still dangles in the air. But the exhibition is fun -- and sure to be a blockbuster. You have until September 6 to see it.