9 May 2015

Neha Choksi: Minds to Lose: Hayward Gallery

I have to declare an interest here as a moving image artist myself. Neha Choksi's work Iceboat does just about everything I look for moving image to do. It's beautiful and mysterious, meaningful without needing explanations, and a journey in the own mind of the viewer. A boat made out of ice, what a fabulous concept, invoking all sorts of narratives and interpretations, some fairy-tale and mythic, and other all too real such as the current precarious and tragic voyages of migrants in the Mediterranean. It is all of these things and more, a dreamed reality, a perfect and mesmerising analogy.

I found the other works less convincingly successful, as there were elements which I felt got in the way of my own imagination. Two other videos required reading the script to truly figure out what was going on - a disappointment to me after the abstract power of Iceboat. Leaf fall is eloquent in its way, but the noise of the leaf clipping seemed inauthentic. Similarly, the ticking noise in Minds to Lose is a bit of a distracting ordeal for the audience wearing headphones.

In Leaf seems appropriate to the overall exhibition, but unoriginal. I would not normally comment on originality, as in art it is surely more about context, reusing and reimagining imagery. However, three painted indoor trees somehow did not have the impact they probably intended, as variation of that are a similar sight in exhibitions and degree shows.

Iceboat remains in my memory.

Neha Choksi, Iceboat, 2012-13 (video still)

Neha Choksi: Minds to Lose
Hayward Gallery
30th April - 14th June 2015



Waterloo Sunset Pavilion 

I admit I hadn't noticed there was a free space at the Hayward before. The signage all over the Southbank Centre is really appalling and favours the intrepid. Even then, wandering where you will can just as easily lead you to a dead end as to some brilliant place which everybody else already seems to know about.

The Waterloo Sunset Pavilion sounds great: Conceived as a ‘drop in centre for children and old people and a space for viewing cartoons’, Dan Graham’s Waterloo Sunset at the Hayward Gallery 2002–03 is a space for social interaction, learning and fun that is open during and in between exhibitions. The space houses six touch-sensitive monitors showing cartoons selected by Dan Graham, artist’s videos from the Arts Council Collection and new media commissions.

It was a chilly Spring day when I visited, and already the Pavilion felt hot, stale and airless. It's a magnificent view over towards the busy Thames, but the room reeks of the old rubber floor tiles. The screens are low and require sitting on blocks and wearing headphones, but the general brightness makes visibility difficult. Overall, it's not inviting and feels like a wasted space. Glass walls invite colour casts. The place could do with the oxygenation of plants, and something like rush flooring would freshen the atmosphere.

The Pavilion needs a makeover.


13th May 2015

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