Tag Archives: miroslaw balka

Thinking of ‘How It Is’

In March last year I went to the Tate Modern, while staying in London en route to returning to Bristol after two months or so of travelling. There was a big box in the Turbine Hall at the time, an installation called How It Is by the Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. Visitors to the art work walked up a ramp and into the darkness within the box. It was unsettling, not being able to see where you were going, walking into a potential void, but at the same time it was kind of exciting. You had to really feel your way in the dark…not just step along without thinking about exactly what your steps felt like.

The box could of course be experienced in many different ways. Thinking of the clear allusions to Polish history underlying the piece would seem to demand a sombre turn of mind to match the darkness within the box. But even if one just treated it as a large, dark expanse of unknown depth, this felt to me still very much worth a moment of quiet contemplation.

And then some of the people around me started shining the lights from their mobile phones so they could see better. This annoyed me. I thought, can we not wonder, can we not risk falling? Can we not just feel our way?