Sitting on a swing in the middle of an art gallery sounds like the kind of thing that could get you dragged out by security. However, the latest installation in the Tate’s Turbine Hall encourages you to not only climb on, but play with the art.
One Two Three Swing! by Danish artists’ collective SUPERFLEX is a huge interactive art piece that occupies the whole turbine hall. It consists of a stripey carpet, over which swings a giant metallic globe (think disco ball pendulum), while a bright orange pipeline wraps it’s away around the rest of the wall and first floor walk way, holding several swings.
The stripey carpeted side of the hall is referred to as the ‘apathy zone’, where viewers can relax on the carpet, the colours of which are inspired by bank notes, while the swings make up an activity zone. The swings themselves have up to three seats, with participants been able to swing along, with friends or with strangers, where they are able to swing much higher together.
The installation has been met with mixed reviews with Mark Hudson in The Telegraph referring to it as ‘a whimsical exercise of shallow metaphor’ (October 2017), Adrian Searle from The Guardian stating that it ‘was no world-changing work of art’ (October 2017) and Laura Cumming writing for The Guardian arguing that One Two Three Swing! is ‘the worst Turbine Hall exhibition in the history of the Tate Modern’ (October 2017).
In contrast to Cumming, I don’t feel that SUPERFLEX’s work deserves the mantel of worst Turbine Hall work and had a positive experience of the work.
I entered the hall from the first floor, so was greeted with a birds eye view of the ‘apathy’ and ‘activity zones’. The striped carpet and disco pendulum where very striking from this view, and I enjoyed watching other visitors laughing and swinging in the hall.
From there, I made my way down to the floor to try one of the swings. Seeing adult couples, strangers and friends having fun on swings was an immediate mood-lifter on a cold London evening and taking part in swinging myself was a pure and fun experience. The change in angles also provides a good opportunity to take it the Turbine Hall from a unique perspective.
As a lone attendee, I did indeed feel a connection with others taking part in the art piece and enjoyed it immensely. The meaning behind the piece that more can be achieved from collaboration is not the most complex or subtle theme. However, I believe that there is space for fun, interactive pieces as well as deep works that prompt soul searching, while the amount of people engaging with the work and pulled into the Turbine Hall was uplifting to see. I am always happy for works to engage the public and hope that those visiting for this piece also made their way upstairs to explore the rest of the Tate Modern’s collections.
One Two Three Swing! is a fun piece, with a striking a bold aesthetic. It may be not be among the most complex piece to ever take over the Turbine Hall, but as a piece that places such an emphasis on pure enjoyment, does it really need to be?