Danish artists Superflex have turned Tate Modern into London’s number one swinging destination. We mean actual swings. Here’s what it’s all about.
Who are Superflex?
They’re a Danish art collective founded by Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen way back in 1993. Since then, they’ve created parks, beer, shops, toilets and, now, a massive swing set in the Turbine Hall. There will be over 30 sets of three-person swings throughout the cavernous space, extending out through the new building onto the rear courtyard. It’s every kidult’s dream come true. Or is it?
What do they do?
The artists behind Superflex are interested in economics, but not in a boring way like that bozo in your class at uni who was in the Young Conservatives and insisted on wearing a bow-tie and carrying around a copy of The Economist. Superflex are more interested in making works of art that create new means of economic production, so they call their works ‘tools’. Their ‘Free Beer’ project involved publishing a beer recipe and its branding under a Creative Commons licence, treating beer as a sort of open-source computer program that anyone could access. For ‘Copyshop’, they made products that ‘challenge intellectual property’ – essentially, things with branding that could get them sued. Other works have seen them put fountains in waste water rivers, create paintings out of the colours of world currencies (see the cover they designed for us this week) and recreate an EU ministers’ toilet in a Turkish restaurant. The idea never seems to be to attack the capitalist forces at work in the things they make, but to show how they happen.
What’s with the carpet and swings?
The Turbine Hall commission is divided into three main parts. In the first section, ‘Apathy’, the space’s long sloping ramp is covered in a multi-coloured carpet based on the colours of British currency with a massive pendulum swinging overhead. Next, in ‘Production’, a workshop builds and stores three-seater swings, which become the main attraction in the final section, ‘Movement’; it’s a network of 33 three-person swings that you’re meant to sit on with fellow visitors and set in motion together.
What’s it about?
It’s economics, man. It’s the people being apathetic, the workers working, and then the general population trying to come together to make something happen. I mean, that’s one way to look at it. You can also see it as London’s biggest new playground, the logical conclusion to the kidult trend, the end-point that adult ball-pits have been shoving us towards for years now. Shudder. No, let’s just go with the economics eh? More fun that way.
The Hyundai Commission: Superflex, 'One, Two, Three, Swing!' is at Tate Modern until the 2nd of April 2018, and is free. Find more art to see here.