I realised I had missed the point. I realised I was watching a whimsy. It was a genuinely cosy catastrophe. This exhibit isn’t failed. The point of it was to install something innocuous. I didn’t get that for a time. The key was in the sounds I didn’t think I could hear properly: the rain, the thunder, the atmosphere that–as I thought–failed to make itself present. In fact these are the sounds of a storm that has already passed–if it was ever, really, in a state of actual occurrence.
The Turbine Hall has turned into somewhere to wait out a little rain. While you’re there you can amuse yourself with a catastrophe. Shop for the condition of being a survivor. Shop for an art artifact with a catastrophe style. Shop for a book in which a catastrophe is happening–illustratively and meaningfully, even poignantly–to someone else. You can pick up a book, leaf through it, decide not to buy it and move on out of the “refuge” when the rain stops. You can continue your walk along the Embankment in the sunshine. You can shop for a disaster the way you shop for a print.
Meanwhile, outside this context, the disaster is being not so much averted as inverted. Disaster means change & change is hope. But soon any sense of change will be past. Everything will be back to normal. There will never really be a disaster, only the sign of it. To put it another way, we move through disasters daily now: they never leave a mark on us–except, briefly, to “make us think”. The Turbine Hall celebrates a safety–a stasis–which enables us to toy with the loss of it. That’s what’s so offensive.