The Hayward gallery has never been one to shy away from unusual exhibitions, and its latest has courted much controversy. The show is all about art that can’t be seen. Is this post-modernism in extremis or a set of abstract yet brilliant concepts? Here’s what we think …
Invisible is not a haphazard arrangement of blank canvases, and there is a noticeable thread (also invisible) running through the exhibition. It starts off with Yves Klein’s 1958 display in which he presented an empty gallery that he claimed was saturated with a force field. It then moves through to the modern day and tells the story of how other artists have also embraced the use of the unseen.
The invisible artworks can be both baffling and thought provoking. Tom Friedman is a prime example of an artist who elicits both of these feelings in the viewer. His “1,000 hours of staring”, which consists of a blank canvas that has been stared at for, yes you guessed it, 1,000 hours, is self-absorbed nonsense. However, the plinth, which he claims a witch has cursed, is a clever idea. Even though you know there’s nothing there you’ll still hesitate, or even refuse, to put your hand through that space.
Also of note are Yoko Ono’s poems that provide instructions on how to create an artwork. They draw your attention to the long-standing and unanswered question of whether creativity lies in the conception or the execution of an artwork.
The highlight of the exhibition is the invisible labyrinth where you must navigate a maze in an empty room with your only guide being a headset that vibrates if you stray off course. It’s both interactive and entertaining.
This show and even the works within it are bound to divide people, and some people will hate the pretentiousness of it all. However, you’re unlikely to experience a more thought-provoking exhibition.
Invisible: Art of the Unseen 1957-2012 is on at the Hayward gallery until 5 August. Tickets are £7 for adults, concessions available.