Saturday, 20 October 2012


Verdict: Go see it
Where: Old Vic Tunnels
When: 9-21 October

If you're a fan of horror movies and in particular of the series American Horror Story then this is one exhibition that you won't want to miss.

Before you even see the works of art, the dank dark surroundings infect you with their smell and the air feels heavy. Coupled with the surroundings shaking with the rumbling of trains passing overhead and the creepy droning soundtrack that penetrates into the tunnel network, and your senses are heightened already.

The exhibition starts off slowly with strange figures lit up in the darkness, some with tree branches pushing through them (see image). What's less easy to discern is that their faces are playing videos of surreal images, some that reminded me of The Ring.

Throughout this exhibition and just visible are artworks on the wall showing people behind cages painted into the wall - sometimes it's the whole body, other times just a pair of hands reaching out.

Our favourite macabre artist, Tessa Farmer, is also present with a disarray of shiny objects and dead mice and insects hanging from the ceiling - it's a mobile that would give any child nightmares.

The best room is reserved until last with three large scale installations. First up is a chair complete with straps that faces a tall screen full of shifting black and white images like the introductory sequence to the Twilight Zone. The shapes ebb and flow and the process is hypnotic but let your imagination wonder and devilish forms start to appear through the chaos and you'll want to prise yourself away.

At the other end is a swinging cage that people can sit in as it rotates but the creepiest effect is the shadow it casts on the wall as it swings. As the 'prisoner' spins around from light into dark, they take on the guise of an asylum resident.

In the heart of this room are repeating patterns on the ceiling and visitors are invited to lie back and experience them. As the patterns grow they envelop you and seem to draw you forward even though you're lying still. It's a surreal effect, somewhat ruined by people taking photographs with their flashes on but still enjoyable despite this.

This exhibition is designed to bring an insane asylum to life and it certainly succeeds and all viewers will leave a little disturbed by this emotive and encapsulating experience.

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