“It’s a way of using play, joy and a sense of freedom to have people open up and think in different ways”,


There’s something comically taboo about conversations with strangers. In the big city it can seem no-one has time for small talk, or, if they do, fear of the unknown intervenes; where could the exchange lead?

The well intentioned ‘Talk to me London’ scheme encouraging ‘tube chat’ predictably nosedived, with commuters swiftly opting for a ‘don’t even think about talking to me’ badge in response.

The tube may seem an extreme example of where the unwritten “no talking” rule applies but there’s no denying that in the faceless, grey rush of London, anything besides asking for directions (which apps have rendered obsolete anyway) is generally not the done thing.

Enter Tate Modern’s newest attraction, One, Two, Three, Swing!. In the first Hyundai Commission to burst through the gallery walls, Danish collective SUPERFLEX have filled the Turbine hall with a garish British currency coloured carpet, a gigantic swinging pendulum, and dozens upon dozens of swings. Interconnected by bright orange piping that weaves its way across the far end of the Turbine Hall to the outside environment, the three-seater swings’ design encourages unexpected conversations with complete strangers through shared experience.

It’s a way of using play, joy and a sense of freedom to have people open up and think in different ways”, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, one third of SUPERFLEX, tells me. “Many people have had interesting discussions with people they didn’t know, but they didn’t talk about the freedom or the swinging, they talked about all kinds of interesting things, taking on big issues, big discussions”.

SUPERFLEX have been tackling the big discussions since 1993, when Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen realised their creative venture. Christiansen explains, “…we discovered that we had more joy and intellectual challenges by working with other people so it became an obvious choice. The whole idea about this original genius individual, an artist or a physicist and so on, is a construction. Everything develops from more than one, two is more of a dual, but when you have three you have discourse and disagreement within the conversation”.

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