A brightly coloured carpet draws you into the turbine hall of the Tate Modern where superflex’s installation “One, Two, Three, Swing” is set up. The carpet and bright orange three-man swings create a feeling of pure fun; this is only exaggerated by the hoards of kids running, rolling down the hill and playing on the swings.
Sitting on the slope watching all types of people swinging or lying on the ground hypnotised by the huge slowly swinging pendulum, it was my understanding that superflex had set out to challenge our perception of a traditional gallery space and create a kind of breather from the exhausting task of walking round the Tate passively staring at works. The swings provided a release in the form of play while the pendulum allowed you to clear your mind and relax.
Another key feature of the installation was how it brought people together. All ages were intermingled on both the slope and the swings so strangers were forced to interact in a way that is rare in a public space. Avoid flying legs, race people to get on the swing first and perhaps even share a swing with someone you barely know or have never met. The three-person swings required teamwork and a reliance on each other to stop and start. The big scaffolding system joins each and every swing, connecting you to every person taking part.
After reading the statement about the piece as well as looking into reviews/press I was very disappointed to find out that the piece is based on the “swings of the economy” and the carpet supposedly represents the colours of banknotes. This explanation seems completely superficial and doesn’t really fit at all. It has led me to question the importance of artist intent vs viewer reaction. Once a piece has been ‘released’ into the public, does the artists intention have any significance at all?
It also made me think about the turbine hall as a space. If this installation had been in any other space within the Tate (it would of course have to be downsized), would the reaction to it be the same? In the turbine hall, people jump on the swings without any thought/consideration; if it were somewhere else would we be more reluctant to take part? Would we start to see the piece more as art, meaning we look at it and think about it but don’t touch it? and would this result in us thinking about it’s socio-economic implications?