Nick Hackworth

Tomoko Takahashi, Serpentine Gallery

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Interesting rubbish is a fair summation of the work of Japanese artist Tomoko Takahashi. Since she moved to London to study at Goldsmiths College in the early Nineties, she has made sprawling installations constructed from a sea of unloved, left-over litter.

For her first major UK show since being nominated for the Turner Prize in 2000, she has transformed the Serpentine into a fascinating, crazy kingdom of the disowned and discarded — like the handiwork of a deranged child with too much time on their hands.

She has taken more than 7,600 objects reclaimed from skips and bought from car-boot sales and arranged them in her distinctive obsessive-compulsive style to form quasi-domestic spaces in the gallery: a reception, a garden, a kitchen/HQ, though none are literal representations. A vast array of objects, from washing machines and park railings, to toy soldiers and dice, impossible to take in with one glance, are arranged in a semblance of order. In the garden area, a small spread of green sponges forms a section of “grass”, near which various gardening tools are neatly lined-up.

The main kitchen/HQ space has a floor made of game boards buried under an abundance of detritus. The results are oddly spectacular. One typical interpretation of Takahashi’s work is that it is an ecologically motivated critique of capitalist wastefulness.

While that element is here, highlighted by the “give-away” day on Sunday 10 April when the public can take whatever they like away with them, Takahashi’s love of games and rules suggests that her work is mainly an aesthetic and psychological way of imposing a fragile order on our cluttered domestic and urban environments.

And, one that presents an interesting alternative to the bland ideology of today’s interior-design makeover programmes. If you can’t beat the chaos, play with it.

Until 10 April. Information: 020 7298 1515.