What is most striking about Space Shifters is the way in which it blurs the boundaries between subject and object. The roles of the viewer, the viewed and the surrounding space are fluid, as demonstrated in Jeppe Hein's 360° Illusion V (2018), two large right-angled mirrors that rotate above you. There is something strangely unsettling and voyeuristic about sitting in a beanbag watching yourself from opposing angles before you disappear from view. As with the majority of works displayed in Space Shifters, you the spectator are integral in making this art come to life.
The overriding atmosphere is a sense of the uncanny, as familiar images are twisted and subverted. The best example – and possibly the best piece in the exhibition – is Alicja Kwade’s WaltenLinie (2017). Meaning ‘world line’, this steel-framed structure is made up of both empty doorways and double-sided mirrors. Seen from certain angles, objects will suddenly disappear or transform colour, demonstrating both the power of reflection and how easily our eyes can deceive us. The impact is simply spellbinding.
However while each piece in the exhibition has its own qualities, the narrative gets progressively harder to follow the further on you go. Unlike the lower galleries that focus on mirrors, light and colour, the upper galleries do not have as clear a trajectory. Fortunately Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror and Richard Wilson’s 20:50 (1987), a room filled with engine oil and a metal walkway, end the exhibition on a thought-provoking note.
If you do find the end of your visit anti-climatic, return to the lower galleries and look at Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden (1966-2018) once again. These seven hundred stainless steel orbs scattered across the floor create a sparkling sea of endless reflections, deftly capturing Kusama’s preoccupation with ‘infinity, self-obliteration, and compulsive repetition.'
Narcissus Garden and the other pieces in this exhibition will dazzle you to the point that you won't want to leave. You will have never seen your own reflection quite like this before.
|Review: Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, London
|Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP
26 Sep 18 – 06 Jan 19, Closed Tuesdays
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