One of the free, experiential and sculptural works being presented at Melbourne Festival 2014 is the Golden Mirror Carousel by Belgian artist Carsten Höller.
A shiny gilt old-fashioned swing carousel has taken up residence in Federation Court of NGV International. It’s a beautiful object and a stunning sight to behold when you first enter the gallery.
Twelve people at a time are allowed to take a seat on the carousel, which transforms the traditional fairground ride into something unexpected. For instance, it turns very slowly around and takes approximately four minutes to complete a rotation. Instead of being thrilling and noisy like you’d expect, this carousel is gentle, relaxed and silent.
Sit back, enjoy the glittering, multi-mirrored views or simply take some time to slow down your busy life. Someone mentioned that it was so relaxing he almost fell asleep and I found the experience rather dream-like. I felt like I was turning inside a gilded music box and enjoyed looking into the mirrors to catch of glimpse of objects and spaces around the gallery.
Everyone will have a different physical and emotional reaction to the work. My favourite moment was watching an elderly woman who had problems walking make the slowest, utmost effort to take a seat in what was a potentially childish ride. I can only imagine the kind of memories her go at the carousel might have brought back for her.
We were surprised to find almost no queues during our visit on a weekend around lunchtime. The staff are quite good at herding people on and off the carousel so you shouldn’t have to wait too long at any time.
Note that tomorrow Sunday 12 October you have the opportunity to hear from Carsten Höller directly in a free talk from 5:30-6:30pm in the Great Hall of NGV International. Bookings are essential and you can register by email with GOLDEN in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.