Writer_Sarah van Binsbergen
- Sarah van Binsbergen reviews House of Pain, a new, and very unusual art installation.
The chilling screams and the blue and purple lights flashing from every storey of the building on Borough High Street certainly draw the attention of passers-by. Is it a new nightclub? A publicity-stunt for a horror movie? Nope, this is a piece of art. Zenith House, a former dental practice soon to be demolished, is opening its doors to visitors for the last time. And artists Marcus Lyall and Mark Logue made sure it’s a visit you’re not likely to forget.
Once you enter the walk-in installation House of Pain you become the one actually making the artwork. The host leads you to a room and, before leaving you alone in the dark, invites you to scream as loud as you can. The sound of your cathartic yell lights up the whole four-storey building. And what’s more: since every scream is unique, the intensity, movement and colour of the light sculpture will be different every time.
The result is an experience that blends spectacular light-effects, overall excitement, and the purgative feeling of screaming from the top of your lungs. It invokes memories of childhood, visits to the fair, your first time at the Funhouse, or a first scream in the Haunted House. It’s mesmerizing, thrilling and extremely enjoyable, a welcome reminder that fun and contemporary art can indeed go hand in hand.
House of Pain is part of MERGE Festival, an annual festival celebrating the rich contemporary culture and heritage of Bankside. “We are extremely pleased to have such a stunning, interactive artwork as part of this year’s festival” says Caroline Jones, the festival’s director. “The piece encompasses the ethos of MERGE; site-specific work that pushes the artists and audiences boundaries alike.” There’s a lot more to feast your eyes and ears on: from musical happenings by high-profile bands in unexpected places, to artists making site-specific work and engaging the public in different ways. Go see for yourself! And don’t forget to have that purgative scream.
See www.mergefestival.co.uk for the full list of events. House of Pain is open from the 16th to the 20th of October, daily between 5pm and 10pm.