Light Show – Hayward Gallery
I found myself wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the Hayward Gallery’s Light Show exclaiming excitedly to my friends about the incredible work on display. My childlike wonder however, was soon checked by the rather authoritarian exhibition invigilators manning the pieces and patrolling the space. At times this lead to over-anticipation: after having been escorted into a darkened room and ordered to sit where shown and not to move, a hushed silence came over the audience as we waited for James Turrell’s Wedgework V to start performing. A shame really, because if viewers had been allowed to encounter the static piece more on their own terms, I’m sure they would have appreciated the subtle beauty and trickery of the work.
Aside from the restrictive manner of the invigilators (which can perhaps be forgiven slightly considering the vast numbers of visitors), Light Show provided its audience with an experience quite extraordinary which sparked conversations shared by people from all backgrounds. From groups of young friends, to well-seasoned exhibition goers, families to couples, the show provided something which catered for everyone. Covering artists and work as varied as Leo Villareal’s Cylinder II (featured on posters for the show) to Jenny Holzer’s MONUMENT (a series of declassified US government documents circulating in LED’s), the exhibition does not fail in introducing us to the world of light in art. Perhaps however, the sheer number of artists covered also served as a fault; covering so many uses of light in art meant the exhibition did not have a clear message or story, as travelling between such dramatically different uses of light at times lead to a loss of fluidity and cohesion.
Despite this, Haywood Gallery has without argument provided value for money at Light Show. With numerous large scale and awe-inspiring pieces on show, it is easy to lose track of time when wondering through this dazzling world.
Haywood Gallery, Southbank Centre, until 6 May 2013