The Carsten Holler exhibition that was on show at the Hayward Gallery over the summer was less a cerebral exercise and more a wide snapshot on the various ways of constructing art and its potential involvement in the non-art world. His use of technologies, such as VR Headsets to create a narrative environment we can not just see but also occupy, talk of the wonders of the modern age as well as providing a glimpse of how art may expand.
Holler says that art is allowed to be fun and in the moment as well as brow furrowing, yet his background of chemistry is apparent in the clean scientific way in which this fun is had. Engaged as we are, it’s as if we appear to be subject within a surreal test chamber worthy of Willy Wonker, a think tank of what is fun and what is art and what is both.
As to the pieces themselves, there was not one person who hadn’t a smile on their face when wearing the reality flipping headsets, or pushing the great mushroom mobile. However the piece that shone brightest wasn’t a gimmick, it was a film, about music from the Congo. This documentary went through the mindsets of those who made the music and played the music, it was a sincere investigation into how art in any form can bring people together and make even the darkest times bearable. Carsten Holler was fun, it was entertaining, but it seemed a bit too focused on the pageantry.