Rain Room at the Barbican

According to the literature, Random International combine aesthetic purity and technical sophistication, to create works, often hard won, that explore materiality and immateriality, the animate and inanimate, alike.

What this means in practice, when it comes to Rain Room, currently on as a free exhibition in the Curve at the Barbican, is an interactive installation, of rain falling, through which you are invited to walk, without getting wet.

So popular is the show that the waiting time is currently a minimum of two hours.  We decided to go anyway, and to make the wait part of the event itself, which was just as well.  Arriving at 8:45 for an opening time of 11, we were second in line, but by the time it was 9:05 there were already scores of people behind us.  The was entertaining sport in watching the consternation on the faces of the people who thought they were arriving in plenty of time before it opened to get a good place in the queue only to discover that they would be joining the line beyond the ‘four hour wait from here’ sign.

By the time 11 am arrived, the waiting area was full to bursting of cross legged people, having breakfast picnics and cups of coffee, chatting or working on the laptops they brought with them for the wait.

Finally we were allowed into the Rain Room.  A darkened space, quiet apart from the sound of falling water.  We walked slowly through the falling rain toward the bright light ahead of us.  As we approached the water parted around each person.   We stretched out our arms, and spun around, throwing our shadows up the walls, challenging the water to anticipate our moves, both hoping to catch it out, and fearing the dampening consequences of too swift a move.

It was a magical experience, being bale to watch the water come on and go off, and to see the shadows and light glinting off the raindrops.

We’d waited a long time to see it, but it was worth it.

Rain Room is on at the Barbican until 3 March.

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