Ann-Sofi Siden at the Hayward Gallery until April 1 London

From: RS
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 12 February 2002


In the Czech Republic near the German border, everywhere is a red-light district. Imagine Amsterdam crossed with an endless motorroute and uglier and more lawless. Coming from downstairs where the aged, plus mothers and children look at cranky twee Klee, upstairs you find trendies watching many documentary films about prostitution. I heard a mother say to an eager young son they could not go up because it was X-rated there. What obvious but inspired curating to have two such different exhibitions in one gallery. I was tempted to run up and down between the two, like getting out of a steaming hot bath and walking into freezing snow.

Can you make these aesthetic films of some suffering, housed in plexiglass confessional booths with red carpets, and show them in an art gallery, without rendering politics aesthetic, fascism or nihilism. Siden succceeds. One is immersed in a world. Surrounded by the protagonists of this squalid economic immorality, their reflections and noise, and entering and exiting spaces where one hears their real voices, or standing outside reading the subtiltles, paralleling the feeling of voyeurism and willlessness one has when viewing others' sadness. So the strength of the many differently formatted films and images, and various spaces is through their multiplicity to sense a complete world. One may question its entertainment value, but its power makes it ok.

Ok and you go home on the creaking delayed tube, having learnt that the borders between rich and poorer become explicit when the working classes of the rich fuck the desperate and damaged of the poor, who are in turn bullied by the scum of the downtrodden. Inequality causes expoitation. The strong take from the weak at cheap prices. The war and poverty of the world border our Western prosperity. And we say fuck them.

comments are closed on this review, click here for worldwidereview home