Wayward at the Hayward

September 3, 2010

I guess I’m willfully awkward at times. No one likes to be told what to do. Do they?

I’m such a softy I usually do do what I’m told (Yes, I know! I just typed do do, trying to slip an element of subversion into an arty post, trying to be anti-authoritarian, but hey, la-di-da). I do. It’s true. I’ll always obey Prince Charles. I’ll listen sincerely to a priest. I respect all police officers older than me.

But when it comes to art galleries telling me this and that I get furious. I can’t help it. Fucking art galleries. Yes! Swearing! That’s just how mad I get.

For my Birthday I was bought membership to the South Bank Centre. Thank you my darling.

Now I’ve got the thanks out of the way on to the business. Fucking art galleries. Fucking Hayward Art Gallery.

My year long membership entitles me to free entrance to all exhibitions at the Hayward. What’s the chances I see the year through without being arrested?

Fucking Hayward Art Gallery.

Sorry about the swearing, but really. At every fucking point! Every corner! Don’t touch this! Don’t touch that! Take a picture here! Don’t take a picture there! Touch this! But not that! Take a picture of this but don’t touch it! Touch this but no photos!

The crazy thing is, everything at the Hayward, at the mo, begs for interaction. Ok, we don’t have to go mad, like the ‘Jaravistes’ racing through the Exhibition Dada in Paris in 1957 and smashing up Man Ray’s ‘Object to be Destroyed, but please, stop putting up signs of do’s and dont’s. Let us use our little judgement, and, if the worst comes to the worst, you have enough ‘Hayward police’ to come along and gently persuade us to discontinue our artful explorations.

Art galleries; particularly modern ones full of modern art and installations and suchlike; they should make us interact. Invite us to peer, poke, prod, touch, feel, try not to break.

Upstairs at the Hayward is Ernesto Neto’s The Edges of the World. This is quite good fun. It’s a kind of wooden skeleton thing covered in stockings. You walk around, push your way through it, poke your head out of the top of it. It’s like being trapped in a 1970’s tights shop. It’s kind of more fun for kids, possibly, than adults. It’s lovely and stockingy, and you can take pictures. But I’m not going to show you pictures when I’ve been allowed to take them!

Downstairs was far more interesting. Yes! It’s The New Decor- Artists and interiors. I liked this a lot. Here’s what it is, described by someone else who can talk about art:

The New Decor is an international survey with over 30 contemporary artists whose work elaborates on the common vocabulary of interior design. By reconfiguring and reinventing the familiar objects of domestic life such as chairs, tables, beds, lighting, wallpaper and flooring, these artists look beyond design and function to create provocative sculptures and installations. By drawing out the social, historical and personal stories which are embedded in the everyday objects that surround us, the artists aim to open up the discussion about interior space in different parts of the world, and in different social contexts, with interpretations ranging from the absurd and the horrifying to the lyrical.

Southbank Centre leaflet.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? And it is. I loved this exhibition. But I was threatened and overwhelmed by the amount of ‘Do not touch’ notices. How can you not touch a chair, or a carpet, or a bed, or a table, or a door? A door handle? A door covered in about 50 handles? How can this be? Some things cried out to be touched.

There was something by Elmgreen and Dragset. Now- Elmgreen is from Denmark, and I know, from my own Denmarkian art adventure, that all Denmark artists like their work to be touched*.

This jokey couple had made some doors, at right angles to each other and then connected by a chain; the thing being you couldn’t open them and get them to do their proper job because… oh, I don’t know… I don’t even know which way they opened. Did one pull the other? Does one door open when another closes? Are they opposing each other, causing both to remain constantly shut? What was/ is going on? When is a door not a door?**

But we weren’t allowed to touch these doors. If the gallery stops us from touching a door, then is it still a door? It’s been deprived of its job, its purpose… but shouldn’t it be the artists who are encouraging us to find out these things? If the gallery takes over, why even bother with the chain? Am I making sense? It drove me mad!

And no photography allowed on this floor.


In my desire to break the rules in an easy-going way I was thrilled to see this sign mid-way between the first (no photographs) floor and the second (photographs allowed) floor:

I was dumbstruck! (Not that I’d have spoken out loud; let’s not forget I’m in an art gallery). Art for males only! Is that acceptable? Is it allowed? Aren’t there rules, signs? Protocol? Surely a ten minute toilet swap every hour on the hour, monitored by wardens?

So, no photography allowed and art for men only. This is where I can truly be my subversive self. I can defy all, I can be banned from the Hayward. Get ready ladies! I’m going to show you, not just art designed exclusively for men, but a rare glimpse inside the men’s bog at the Hayward Gallery.

Marriage by Elmgreen and Dragset

* Ok, I don’t know. it’s not fact. But the Danes are cool- Brentian fact.

** When it’s ajar.


2 Responses to “Wayward at the Hayward”

  1. Taragh said

    Enjoyed that. Thank you.

  2. MH said

    Thank you ! I enjoyed it too.

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