This Is The Most Surreal Exhibition We've Been To In A While

Bedwyr Williams, The Curve - Barbican ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 23 months ago

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This Is The Most Surreal Exhibition We've Been To In A While Bedwyr Williams, The Curve - Barbican 4
This yoga video is playing when you take a seat in the boardroom. Still from Flexure, 2016. Courtesy the artist

The Barbican's Curve gallery is a great space — its long, sweeping shape gives artists something unique to experiment with.

That honour currently belongs to Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams, who has broken The Curve up into discrete sections.

We enter between two artificial sand dunes to see a fire made of sticks on the floor, and the moon setting on the sea printed on to the wall.

The moon shines between two sand dunes.

This moonlit beach scene is followed by a drumming workshop and a video playing in a boardroom. We finally emerge through a gold curtain onto a running track with lucky cats waving at us from cubes suspended from the ceiling.

Visitors will be able to have a go on this drum set. Photo by Ben Pruchnie /Getty Images

If that sounds surreal to you, you're spot on. The series of experiences is like an art version of You Me Bum Bum Train — except in this version nothing quite makes sense.

Bedwyr Williams: The Gulch is a playful exhibition and it's designed so that everything doesn't gel. We walk across a floor with a gravel design — as it's not real gravel it doesn't make a sound. Yet the sound of walking on gravel is being piped in, so we never quite feel sure of ourselves.

The running track signifies the end of the two shows. Photo by Ben Pruchnie /Getty Images

There's also an austere boardroom with leather chairs invites visitors to sit down, but the video that plays is about as non-corporate as can be, including a segment where we're told to think pieces of our body are made of dough.

All this could be tiresome if it was stretched out. But dividing it into short and digestible chunks makes for an enjoyably surreal experience.

Bedwyr Williams: The Gulch is on at The Curve, Barbican centre until 8 January. Entrance is free.

Last Updated 29 September 2016