Miroslaw Balka’s How It Is is causing a bit of a stir at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Here the Telegraph goes one-two with a brief Sarah Compton video review and Richard Dorment written one:
Dorment can’t quite make up his mind about the work but he does capture the dualistic dread of the piece both oppressive and seductive at the same time:
Polish-born Balka has long been obsessed with the fate of the Jews in his country, who were all but exterminated at Auschwitz. The piece is intended to evoke a shipping container, a cattle car, or a gas chamber – and part of his point is that, as much as anything else, it was the spaces themselves, both exterior and interior, that must have been so frightening.
And yet, when you actually stand in front of the entrance to the container, there is something undeniably seductive about its dark depths, and once you’ve taken your first step up the long, steep ramp, it is impossible to turn back.
As you step into the interior, you find it has been lined with black, light-absorbing velvet to create a blackness blacker than any you have ever known.
There is nothing for it but to move forward, groping your way in the dark, aware of the presence of other people but afraid that with each step you take you’ll find yourself engulfed in a void. With my long-suppressed fears of premature burial and being trapped in lifts suddenly reawakened, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stay.
In fact, you quickly discover that it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been because the interior space is not so deep that you ever lose sight of the entrance. The simple act of turning around to watch other visitors outlined against light as they advance towards you dispels panic.
Meanwhile, BBC News actually talks to the artist and finds out he’s equally baffled by the whole thing:
“It’s everything and nothing in a way,” says creator Balka, who is appropriately dressed in black. “When I decided to make the sculpture I really did not know what the sculpture was about,” he admits.
Continuing with their theme, the BBC then takes a low-light camera into the work and interviews some uneasy visitors as they too try to make sense of what they’re experiencing:
Tate Modern Unveils Heart of Darkness (BBC News)