Tuesday, 27 April 2010
LAST MAN OUT TURN OFF LIGHTS
If your taste runs to big, immersive, visceral work that swallows you whole, leads you through an unknown realm and spits you out, bewildered, shaken and subtly altered right back where you started, then you will love Christoph Büchel’s Last Man Out Turn Off The Lights. The vast installation, housed within Tramway’s immense main gallery space, is an overwhelming and surely unrepeatable experience that demands to be seen.
The installation is an incredibly controlled environment, with limited entry, no photography, prescribed footwear and invigilators standing guard, ready to blow the whistle on anyone breaking the rules by walking the wrong way or getting too close to the work. The artist has gone to great lengths to ensure that this is experienced on his terms, and given the time and consideration that it deserves.
At the entrance we are confronted with two choices. On one side, the way into the space itself, a prison visitors' room. On the other, two working bars, one Celtic, one Rangers. The viewer must pick a side if they want a drink. Bypassing the ultimate weegie choice and turning left into the space, past the control point and along behind the plastic seats, intercoms and perspex panels, past a dark dorm room complete with lads mag posters, we finally gain access to the main hall which holds – alongside shipping containers housing more prison rooms – the burnt out fragments of a plane crash, half reassembled on a vast mesh structure. Fire-damaged seats are laid out on one side, piles of scorched and ruptured metal surround, awaiting placement. What the hell is this place? What happened? We are confronted by a multitude of questions, as each step reveals more of the carefully constructed environment, more strange and deliberately placed fragments over multiple levels.
More details of the installation will only be discovered through visiting, as the artist intended. Exploring Büchel’s work is a strange and affecting experience, provoking many contradictory reactions from moment to moment, excitement-dread-pleasure oddly coexisting and leaving us confused, drained yet oddly fulfilled when we are eventually spat out back at the entrance. Go.