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Uncertainty guaranteed at Holler retrospective: Hayward retrospective by artist famous for his slides Last shows before gallery closes to focus on London

August 8, 2014

Hannah Ellis-Petersen

The Hayward Gallery has announced plans to host the first UK retrospective of Carsten Holler, the artist who in 2006 installed slides in the cavernous Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern.

Holler, an experimental Belgian artist who originally worked as a scientist, has built a reputation on work as varied as a museum filled with reindeer fed on hallucinogenic mushrooms to a fully functioning guerrilla nightclub in north London. In Britain he is best known for Test Site, which allowed willing participants to launch themselves down metallic double-helix slides installed in the Tate.

Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, said the exhibition, which opens in June 2015, would push the boundaries of audience experience and perception. "Visitors will have a choice of how they enter the show and exit it," he explained, "with those choices leading to quite dramatically different experiences."

"Throughout the show I think there will be works that are very much to do with perceptual psychology and the often unconscious decisions we make in terms of how our perception structures the world around us. Carsten has often said he's very interested in embracing uncertainty - not in being uncertain but in making uncertainty this fertile state where you are open to suggestions because you aren't committed to a particular decision already."

Rugoff said he was working closely with Holler on the exhibition, and that the artist was keen to utilise the structure of the Hayward gallery, having been a long-time lover of the building as a piece of brutalist architecture. While the famous carousel which formed the centrepiece of Holler's 2011 retrospective in New York would be absent, new artworks specially created for the space were in the pipeline.

He said: "We also will be doing things out on the three different terraces of the Hayward so the show will open up to the outdoors as well. Carsten is completely involved in every decision, including the fact that right now we are thinking of doing something completely different with the catalogue that I don't think has ever been done for an exhibition, but I can't tell you exactly what it is.

"Carsten's one of these artists who is always testing what it is possible to make, so there are some things that would involve some very unusual experiences. One would be that some visitors might fall asleep in one location and wake up in another. I don't know any other artist who thinks the way Carsten does and has this kind of playfulness."

He added: "Having this as the final exhibition before the gallery shuts gives us the potential freedom to take a few liberties with the building that we might not normally be able to take."

The Hayward also announced the other two exhibitions that would make up its final programme before the gallery temporarily closes in September 2015 for two years of renovations. One of them, Mirrorcity, focuses on artists living and working in London, offering a snapshot of the multi-faceted cultural environment of the art and of the city. The 23 artists were selected by chief curator Stephanie Rosenthal, who has visited more than 100 art studios in London over the past year. They will include video artist Susan Hiller, 2013 Turner prize winner Laure Prouvost and experimental sculptor Helen Marten.

Rosenthal said: "I wanted to pick some of the most interesting and relevant voices in the London art scene at the moment, not just focus on the young and hot. The themes and subjects I found that were really being explored were these ideas of fluidity, of virtual space and the question of fictional reality and what is reality.

"A lot of them talked about JG Ballard and the influence of science fiction. What became clear was London's artists are really exploring where we are with technology and how it changes the way we navigate the world.

"So I decided I wanted to do a show we've called Mirrorcity because I wanted to talk about this in-between space between the virtual and the physical, and showcase the London artists who are exploring this within a variety of different ways."

The Hayward will also embrace the general election in May next year as a political backdrop to its spring 2015 exhibition, with the working title Britain Can Make It, which will open in February. The show will involve six artists - Richard Wentworth, John Akomfrah, Jane and Louise Wilson, Hannah Starkey, Roger Hiorns and Simon Fujiwara - who each curate a "chapter" of the exhibit with objects, artefacts and artworks they feel reflect an important moment in history from 1945.


Clockwise from top: details from Ursula Mayer's film Gonda, Lindsay Seers' Nowhere and Anne Hardy's Suite, all in Mirrorcity

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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