Hayward Gallery Bores Us Silly With Pretentious, Ponderous Video Art
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The Hayward Gallery is closed for a major refurbishment, so in the interim they've decided to stage an off-site exhibition. We were excited when we heard about this show. More fool us.
The Hayward has put on some great shows we've loved, and they've teamed up with The Vinyl Factory who have had a string of tremendous exhibitions in the Brewer Street car park. On top of that, The Infinite Mix: Sound and Video in Contemporary Video is staged in the brilliantly brutalist building of 180 Strand, and features big name artists like Jeremy Deller, Martin Creed and Elizabeth Price.
How could such a combination go so wrong?
The exhibition starts off slow with a Martin Creed video showing different types of people crossing a road, each with their own walking style. The idea is to showcase each person's individuality but it's a dull watch and not a patch on the videos Creed had in his retrospective.
We're then given a realistic looking jam session by Stan Douglas and told that it's staged. It's never made clear what viewers are supposed to take away from this, other than the artist isn't as clever as he thinks he is.
The Infinite Mix continues with usually reliable names such as Jeremy Deller and Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price creating video works with incoherent narratives, far too little editing and no idea how to convey their message to the audience.
Deller has teamed up with Cecilia Bengolea to create a film about a Japanese dancer travelling to Jamaica. It ends up trying to be farce, surreal and factual at the same time — somehow without fulfilling any of those categories. Price's work is a mere shadow of her usual catchy hypnotic videos. It's a real shame as we like other works by both these artists.
Technology is also a let down, grainy footage blown up so it looks even worse. Cypren Gaillard has adopted 3D technology but the video is so rudimentary that even B-movie directors would be embarrassed to use it.
We've seen some great video art and it can be extremely powerful when done right, but this show feels like all the participating artists don't quite know what they're doing, or haven't quite put in the effort. Viewers will strive to remain engaged throughout each piece, yet there's very little pay off. The concepts are muddled and none of the works gripped us to the point that we wanted to stay and see where it took us.
The one piece we liked was the hologram of Dominique Gonzalez-Foesrster in the guise of soprano Maria Callas. It's an impressive hologram, but there's a big 'but'. The protective wires mean you can't get anywhere near enough to see just how realistic it is.
By experimenting with sound and video, the Hayward is aiming for something cutting edge. In fact what they've got is an exhibition that's dull, directionless and best avoided.
The Infinite Mix: Sound and Video in Contemporary Video is on at The Store, 180 Strand, WC2R 1EA until 4 December. Entrance is free.
Last Updated 08 September 2016