Carsten Höller: Decision at the Hayward Gallery

An infinitely mirrored room. Upside-down glasses. A simulated forest of pines in a snowstorm. Carsten Höller: Decision aims to explore “perception and decision making”, and through a series of exploratory situations Höller does just this, enabling visitors to roam environments that are decidedly alien.


In fact, arguably the best way to experience Höller’s exhibition is utterly blindly: with no idea of what to expect each situation comes as a pleasant, and sometimes confusing, surprise. On entering the Hayward Gallery visitors are presented with a choice of two doors into the exhibition, along with an ominous sounding disclaimer which warns about the nature of the exhibition you are about to see. Warnings not to enter if you are claustrophobic, for example, give a vague idea of what to expect; however, for the most part you are plunged blindly into a journey through Höller’s fascinating mind.

Based over three floors of the gallery, the exhibition combines individual pieces of work from Höller’s repertoire, and the disjointed nature of the exhibits to be viewed only increases the sense of skewed perception that Höller intends. On the third floor, the exhibition culminates in Höller’s Isomeric Slides, the only object in the exhibition that is visible to wanderers outside the gallery. it is difficult not to giggle from sheer joy as you descend the curling silver slide, glimpses of the sky and surrounding buildings of the Southbank Centre above you. Ultimately, this immersive sculpture encourages a loss of control, and this encapsulates – and perhaps begins to tie together – the objects and situations experienced within the exhibition. Though you may have entered Decision blindly, in leaving the exhibition in this way, things have perhaps begun to make sense.

Carsten Höller: Decision continues until the 6th September at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank.

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