The latest large scale instillation in the Tate Modern’s giant turbine hall is “How It Is” by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. A giant grey steel structure with a vast dark chamber, which in construction reflects the surrounding architecture – almost as if the interior space of the Turbine Hall has been turned inside out. Hovering somewhere between sculpture and architecture, on 2 metre stilts, it stands 13 metres high and 30 metres long. Visitors can walk underneath it, listening to the echoing sound of footsteps on steel, or enter via a ramp into a pitch black interior, creating a sense of unease.
Underlying this chamber is a number of allusions to recent Polish history – the ramp at the entrance to the Ghetto in Warsaw, or the trucks which took Jews away to the camps of Treblinka or Auschwitz, for example. By entering the dark space, visitors place considerable trust in the organisation, something that could also be seen in relation to the recent risks often taken by immigrants travelling. Balka intends to provide an experience for visitors which is both personal and collective, creating a range of sensory and emotional experiences through sound, contrasting light and shade, individual experience and awareness of others, perhaps provoking feelings of apprehension, excitement or intrigue.
However if you cant make it to London don’t worry as the Tate have been thoughtful enough to create the “How It Is” iPhone app – an interactive interpretation of Miroslaw Balka’s epic work. Drawing on Balka’s own handwritten notes, playlists and interviews about his Turbine Hall commission, it allows you to immerse yourself in a dark and mysterious 3D world. As an added bonus, if you can get to Tate Modern, opening the How It Is App on your iPhone there will unlock a secret game.
However even if you don’t have an iPhone you can still experience the instillation by checking out the interactive version on the Tate’s website here.
“How It Is” is at the Tate Modern in London until 5th April 2010.