SUPERFLEX Tate Modern Turbine Hall Commission

by Joe Meldrum

Ahead of SUPERFLEX coming to Plymouth with the Atlantic Project in 2018, we caught their major Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission, “One Two Three Swing!”

Standing under a colossal metal pendulum, I watched a distorted reflection of myself career towards me, thunder overhead, and arch away. Aside from my own silhouette, it was just about possible to make out the rest of SUPERFLEX’s Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission as the pendulum whizzed past: vibrant orange swings, banknote-coloured carpets and Plymouth-brewed FREE BEER.

In a packed Turbine Hall, hundreds of critics, artists and producers forgot about the art world for a few moments and embraced the concept of play. It looked easier for some than others, but SUPERFLEX have a canny knack of spurring involvement. Most of the hall is covered in an orange web of three-seater swings. The swings are nearly impossible to move on your own – it’s only by joining in with other people that they can start to fly; and that’s SUPERFLEX in a nutshell – a Danish art collective who specialise in blurring the boundaries of art, social interaction and play.

FREE BEER SUPERFLEX

FREE BEER, brewed in Plymouth by Summerskills Brewery

SUPERFLEX will be coming to Plymouth as part of the Atlantic Project in September 2018. And part of their Turbine Hall commission was an artwork that has been brewed in our city: FREE BEER. Produced in collaboration with Summer Skills Brewery and Devonport’s Real Ideas Organisation, FREE BEER is – I hasten to add – not actually free. Instead it explores the concept of ownership and sharing ideas. Anyone can brew it, sell it and make money from the artwork as long as you credit SUPERFLEX, the branding and recipe can be adapted to suit individual projects and ideas. The Tate Modern will be stocking and selling Plymouth-brewed FREE BEER for the duration of this playful exhibition.

The Tate Modern Turbine Hall commissions are always given to artists at their peak. Notable installations include Olafur Eliasson’s massive sun in “The Weather Project”, Anish Kapoor’s “Marsyas” and Ai Wei Wei’s “Sunflower Seeds”. But SUPERFLEX’s “One Two Three Swing!” marks the first time that an installation has expanded outside the gallery itself, with their iconic three-seat swings breaking outside onto the streets of London. As I headed back from the exhibition opening, three teenagers ate McDonald’s as they swung back and forth on one of the giant orange frames.

 Bubblicious Rave Review photo credit Kate Denkinson 2017

SUPERFLEX’s “One Two Three Swing!” in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall

I don’t know exactly what SUPERFLEX have planned for Plymouth when they arrive as part of the Atlantic Project next year. But based on “One Two Three Swing!”, it’s going to be spectacular, engaging and diverting. I can’t wait!

The Atlantic Project is part of Horizon, a collaborative two year programme of visual contemporary arts, funded through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund and led by Plymouth Culture.