Anish Kapoor has announced new plans to erect the worlds largest slide around his Olympic artwork were “foisted” on him by London mayor Boris Johnson. Apparently putting a giant slide around the piece is an attempt to make the artwork more valuable by turning it into more of an attraction, and it may well be successful; as the slide has been designed by renowned experimental artist Carsten Höller.
The plans were instigated after it was found Kapoor’s statue, which cost £19 million to build (£3 million from government £16 million sponsor from ArcelorMittal, the steel company), has been losing around £10,000 per week since 2014. Though Kapoor was initially reluctant towards the idea of a slide being implemented to “Increase revenue”, and considered “battling with the mayor”; Höller felt there was a more “elegant and astute way through this.” Höller, it seems, could not have been more of a perfect fit: you might remember Höller’s work from his infamous slides in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and at his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. As Kapoor said, “I knew of Carsten’s work so I thought, well, who better than a fellow artist to join up with and make this a positive story rather than a negative … luckily, and thankfully, Carsten was open to it, so we found a way round this.”
The slide around Kapoor’s tower will start at a towering 76m above the ground and include a corkscrew twist they’ve dubbed a ‘Bettfedder’ – German for bedspring. Kapoor said of it, “One makes artworks for other reasons than profit. I understand this is run as a so-called attraction, which I have problems with personally … I want it to be slightly more highbrow than that, without wanting to be pompous about it. There’s a difference between a fairground ride and art.” While Höller said he wanted people to appreciate“the amusement side of it.”
He said: “A child might be here purely for the slide, while the serious art lover might see this in purely formalistic terms. I personally like the confusion, that you don’t know what it is but it still creates a very unique experience.
The slide will open on Friday 24 June. To go down the slide will cost £5, however you’ll need to have spent £12 already to get to the top, Kapoor said he “wished it was cheaper, frankly”.
He added, “We are hoping Boris will be the first one down, and that this will still be Europe when he gets to the bottom.”