Easter Monday was the last day of Polish artist Miroslaw Balka’s extraordinary installation at the Tate Modern. I only stumbled across it last week, but I’m delighted to have had the chance to experience such an unnerving piece of art.

To accommodate the Turbine Hall’s monumental space, Balka constructed a giant grey steel structure that hovers somewhere between architecture and sculpture.
The vast work stands 13 metres high and 30 metres long and is suspended on 2 metre stilts. It is an incredible feat of engineering. Visitors walking beneath the structure look as insignificant as a colony of ants. Eerie sounds of echoing voices and footsteps on steel only add to the sense of disquiet.

The greatest sense of unease however comes upon entering the vast dark chamber. As you enter via a ramp into a pitch-black interior, all sound is muted, and all visibility denied.

At first I panicked. A terrible, shivering sensation crept up my spine. I could not even see or hear my friend next to me. I felt dizzy and vulnerable. After a moment or two however, I became accustomed to the surroundings and could not help but appreciate the velvety richness of the chamber. What’s more, as I left the chamber and walked down the ramp, the welcoming natural light provided an overwhelming sense of relief and encouragement.

According to The Tate blurb, the work alludes to a number of events in recent Polish history. The ramp could be an allusion to the Ghetto entrance in Warsaw, or from one of the trucks that transported Jews to Auschwitz. By entering the dark space, visitors place considerable trust in The Tate, something that could also be seen in relation to the risks often taken by immigrants travelling.

Never before has a piece of art touched every one of my senses in such a dramatic way.
I shall never forget the experience.

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