How it is

Date January 3, 2010 | Map

Creepy. And uncomfortable. That’s how it is. Well, only after sunset though, otherwise it is far less remarkable to walk up the ramp and inside the giant container that Miroslaw Balka has installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall until 5th April 2010.

Today was my second time in the container, and I almost did not go, so disappointing was my first visit. But a few weeks ago I went around noon, with sunlight shining through Turbine Hall’s long thin windows, inconveniently located opposite the entrance to the installation, providing just about enough light to make out the container’s inner back wall. Not good, and the Telegraph reviewer was obviously equally disappointed. But both Times and Guardian highly appreciated this Unilever Series commission, so how could I not visit again?

I am glad I returned. After sunset. The experience inside the giant dark container was completely different to my first visit: I resisted the urge to turn around and catch the last bit of fainting light and headed straight into endless darkness. I felt uncomfortable, and the discomfort grew with every step. We are not talking about the fear-laden anticipation on rollercoaster rides, we are talking about being ripped out of every comfort zone, about losing all reference points that are usually taken for granted because they are always there. Not in this darkness. And having other people around you, invisible as they are, is both comforting and threatening: we are not alone, yet left without any visual control so that we inevitably bump helplessly into those around us.

What a relief to turn towards the light and exit the sculpture. I am not quite sure what happened in there, but I am sure this unexpected anxiety was nothing I had experienced before. So, even though a huge container does not sound overly exciting as a piece of art, I wholly recommend a visit. Make sure it’s dark outside.

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