In spite of her morbid obsession with Halloween (meaning the celebration lives on year-round in our house), nothing creeps a pre-schooler out more than a dark room. Add in strange lights and images of weird creatures and you have some of the ingredients which make DAS INSTITUT at Serpentine Sackler Gallery a surprising and exhilarating visit for little ones.
Featuring individual as well as collaborative works by Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder, the exhibition is their first major UK show exploring the transformative effects of light on bodies and spaces. As well as the skylights of the gallery being covered with coloured gels, the artworks themselves form a key source of light within the space as projected images, stained glass and neon shapes.
Despite my 6 months of graft, it took my 3-year-old a disappointing amount of time to recognise Breast 2010/2015. If first impressions count, these create a big one, enough for us to spend at least 10 minutes stood in front of them until she realised that their intermittent illumination was not simply controlled as a result of her blinking.
The hieroglyphic nature of Script 2015 housed in the South Tomb of the gallery also proved popular as the slide carousels presented an ever-changing run of unusual illuminated forms, but the centrepiece of the exhibition is by far the incredible hanging paintings and glass panels of Brätsch’s Mylars 2015. Staring down from the ceiling like a strange tribe daring you to enter, the installation is brought together by the neon under-lighting of Röder’s Deep Sleep 2010/2015. It’s a challenging space for any 3-year-old to enter, exciting and imposing all in one go, but fortune favours the brave; a thought I had to hang onto having just sent her into a room of precious art and tempting tubes.
With such a variety of shapes, forms and faces, as well as the anticipation of intermittent lights and slide carousels, DAS INSTITUT has absolutely transformed Serpentine Sackler Gallery. If you’re visiting Kensington Gardens, Princess Diana Memorial Playground or the big Museums over the Easter holidays, it’s definitely worth a look before the lights go out for good on the 15th May.
DAS INSTITUT is at Serpentine Sackler Gallery until 15th May
Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, Kensington Gardens, London W2 2AR
Open Tues to Sun 10am-6pm, plus bank holidays