The Gallery as Brain

Brian Dillon in Art Info:

ScreenHunter_06 Jun. 17 14.17 At first glance, the central premise of the Hayward’s summer show seems to court too eagerly the tedious controversy around neuroaesthetics. “Walking in My Mind” aims to “transform the gallery’s unique spaces into a giant brain by bringing together large-scale installations that explore the workings of the mind in different ways … while at the same time inviting visitors to explore their own thought processes.” It’s potentially a clunky conceit, and it risks the sort of interdisciplinary pratfalls that have made for such bathetic reading in recent attempts to bring together art and brain science. It’s as yet unclear exactly what, if anything, is to be gained from the neurologist Semir Zeki’s assertion that artists “are unknowingly exploiting the organization of the brain”; nor does John Onians’s book Neuroarthistory (2007) really convince with its claim that art critics like Ruskin and Pater were actually neurologists in disguise all along. Fortunately, Stephanie Rosenthal, the Hayward’s chief curator, and Mami Kataoka, its international curator, seem to have spotted the limitations of the field early on, and deliver instead a more expansive sense of an exhibition that thinks.

“Walking in My Mind” is in part an extension of the metaphorics of architectural immersion that the Hayward’s director, Ralph Rugoff, broached in his 2008 exhibition Psycho Buildings — a similar ambition to exploit the psychological potential of the gallery’s rigid but resonant Brutalist spaces seems in evidence. But whereas Psycho Buildings (which included work by Mike Nelson, Rachel Whiteread, and Atelier Bow-Wow) was very much a show about artists’ perversions of architecture itself, the subject of “Walking in My Mind” is rather the installation as expression of inner space.

More here. [Thanks to Sughra Raza.]