Superflex’s latest installation at the Tate – sponsored by Hyundai – seems an appropriate partnership in multiple ways. Movement, from the swinging pendulum to the three-seater swings, is at the centre of this work. So far, so appropriate for a car manufacturer to be sponsoring an art installation (for the third year running). The installation is not especially profound, but it is thoughtful, and fun. Yet this playfulness perhaps deliberately detracts from the work’s political statement.
The colours of the carpet, on which families and couples and old ladies eating their sarnies were sat/lying/running about on, are extracted from those of the sterling notes. The swinging pendulum above reflects these abstracted colours and the visitors below, as if demonstrating the hypnotic power of money. The partnership with Hyundai is then perhaps ironically appropriate – a work which appears to criticise the lure of capitalism, enabled by an multi-billion dollar automotive company which operates the largest car factory in the world.
But the movement is symbolic, too. Pronounced by Rachel Spence, ‘a metaphor for the collective endeavour that is essential if we are to build a happier, healthier world’, the swings which hang from orange and grey pipes, snaking through the turbine hall at different heights, are all built to accommodate three people – with the premise that the collective energy of three is far more powerful than that of one. Visitors are encouraged to get on a swing and go – movement and engagement is urged by the very design of the installation.
Seeing the hall filled with people engaging with the space, it feels as if the artists’ aim has been achieved - to bring play to politics. In a time of both new and renewed political movements – Black Lives Matter, Momentum, Antifa – there is a paradox of paralysis: issues are seen but not solved, money floats upwards and away, or dangles before the faces of the poor, reflecting that which is impossible to reach. So while when at the Tate, One Two Three felt like pure fun, a playful installation to encourage engagement and help occupy families and visitors to the gallery, on reflection, that swinging metal ball is perhaps a better mirror than I first thought.