Hayward Gallery’s Space Shifters offers new perspectives

We live in peculiar times. Reality, fact, truth is under fire – replaced with a cocktail of fiction. Increasingly we are made to feel detached from the reality of others as news, war, death all become passing images. So, it feels apt to turn it all up-side-down – to see all around from different perspectives. This is the theme behind ‘Space Shifters’, the new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. The surrounding Southbank Centre and its sincere civic promise, then the Hayward’s brutalist solid structure yet soft, tactile concrete walls and rooms flooded with natural light, are perfectly fitting to experience reality on its head.

Here, our sense of space is completely disrupted through twenty installation pieces and sculptures by a powerhouse of international artists. Yayoi Kusamas, Anish Kapoor, Richard Wilson are exploring how – through shape and translucent materials – they can indulge in a little play on our perceptions. They also offer an alternative view of minimalism. Rather than the usual dry, geometric and serial minimalism, the collection here are altogether more alluring and playful.

Some of the artists featured have explored the double meaning of reflection – the physical mirroring of an object and the contemplative act. One of the highlights is at the top of the concrete ramp – an installation by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané inspired by the shape of pouring concrete stairwells. It asks us to form a new narrative with the architecture of the Hayward Gallery.

‘Space Shifters’ alters our focus. We see ourselves differently – perhaps as others may see us. The audience become participants, approaching the art, entering sculptures, becoming animated. The space is flooded with strange reflections of distorted faces and inverted bodies. And yes, it is a selfie paradise. This isn’t to say ‘Space Shifters’ is presenting art as a theme park. Rather, here there is room for contemplation to allow space for other realities.

Design Talks | The Textile Building | 29a Chatham Place | London | E9 6FJ | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
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