Serpentine Gallery

Christmas came to London early this year with a perfomance of the famous Danish fairy-tale ‘The Emporers New Clothes’ held at the Serpentine Gallery Pavillion.

The Pavillion was designed by artist Olafur Eliasson and he directed and starred in this Park Nights event which the Gallery billed as a friday night laboratory with artists, architects, academics and scientists creating an environment of experimentation and invention.

There was some confusion amongst the cast of courtiers as to whether they were part of a Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, a pantomime, or a cookery demonstration. However the audience, obligingly assuming the role of commoners, were far too well behaved for any of those events. Indeed the audience seemed entirely concentrated on disproving Olafur Eliasson’s central premise that 'what we have in common is that we are different’.

The thesis for the evening was that ‘Models are Real’ and everyone was handed an A4 sheet with an extract by Olafur Eliasson from a forthcoming book called Models (306090), and a second A4 sheet establishing the credentials of his co-editors and principal cast members.

Magically the thesis disappeared amidst a flurry of scientific formulae and wizardly incantation. The old chestnut Space –Time Continuum was whisked into a puree with Quantum Theory and blended into a gloriously light mixture with the really exciting dry ice ingredient. Before you could say ART those wizards had summed up Einstein and Poincare and popped them into a simple formula involving p i x i e s.

This juxtoposition of re-enacted early photographic experiment, secondary school science and random quotation from the rigorous disciplines of mathematics and physics was both under-rehearsed, badly presented and for the most part unintelligble.

Science was not there, nor was invention. However the evening did demonstrate that such categorical statements can never be made about ART. In the end we have to rely on commoner’s sense.