Carsten Höller


    • Male

    About the artist

    He also shares a house in Ghana with colleague Marcel Odenbach.
    He lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.
    1961: Was born in Belgium

    Höller came to prominence in the 1990s alongside a group of artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Douglas Gordon,Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Andrea Zittel who worked across disciplines to reimagine the experience and the space of art. In his work, Höller creates situations which question familiar forms of perception and allow exhibition visitors to experiment on themselves, often inviting the public's active participation in so-called “influential environments”. In their form, Höller's works are occasionally reminiscent of scientific laboratory arrangements, allowing the viewer to become the subject of an experiment. His work since the early 1990s has encompassed buildings, vehicles, slides, toys, games, narcotics, animals, performances, lectures, 3D films, flashing lights, mirrors, eye-wear and sensory deprivation tanks.

    Among Höller's well known works is a series of corkscrewing tubular metal slides made from 1998 that is an ongoing project.  Not only are slides a practical means of transportation, but the act of sliding down one produces a loss of control, inducing a particular state of mind related to freedom from constraint. His most famous slides include that made for the office of Miuccia Prada in Milan (2000) and the first slides made for the Berlin Biennale in 1998.

    Höller's artistic practice reflects the interaction between work and public in various ways, sometimes chemically analyzing the nature of human emotions. His avid interest in the double harks back to the start of his career, when Höller designed a series of works with his then girlfriend, the artist Rosemarie Trockel, actually doubling himself up in another creator. Other examples include an exhibition in which Höller and Maurizio Cattelan presented a series of identical works at two different Paris galleries, removing all differences of style or ownership; and his exhibition "One Day One Day" (2003) at Färgfabriken in Stockholm, where two works were shown opposite each other and changed every day without the public’s knowledge. His explorations often involve playful elements such as in Sliding Doors (2003), a series of electronic sliding doors with a mirrored surface through which the audience passes in a seemingly endless passage. In 2008, Höller installed The Revolving Hotel Room, a hotel room for two, as part of an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. At his 2010 show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, visitors could pay 1,000 euros ($1,370) for a night on an exposed circular platform perched above 12 castrated reindeer, 24 canaries, eight mice and two flies. In Psycho Tank, which can be used alone or with others, visitors float weightlessly on the surface of a sensory deprivation pool, providing a strange out-of-body experience. Equally encouraging visitors' participation, Pill Clock (2011) is an aperture which emits a white pill into a growing pile of the same every 15 seconds.

    Mushrooms became a regular feature of Höller's work from 1994. He has since realized several works with the fly-agaric mushroom, including the Mushroom Suitcase series (2001/2008) and the Upside Down Mushroom Room (2000), which was shown in 2000 at Fondazione Prada in Milan and in 2005 at MOCA in Los Angeles. His fly-agaric replicas are large-scale and often spin or hang upside down from the ceiling. The artist has also created photographic works based on the fly-agaric, entitled Mushroom Print (2003) and Soma Series (2008).In a series of giant sculptures of funghi – Giant Triple Mushrooms (2010) –, two quarters of each sculpture replicate the looks of two random fungi; half, a very specific species: the large red-and-white fly agaric fungus, Amanita muscaria, occurring wild in Eurasia. A fungus with psychoactive, hallucinogenic properties, it was used, it is thought, by Siberian shamans as an intoxicant.

    Animals have figured largely in Höller’s work, most prominently at his exhibition Soma at the Hamburger Bahnhof, where two herds of reindeer were housed in the large main exhibition hall, along with canaries, mice and flies. The project was modeled after a scientific experiment. Other works that include animals include House for Pigs and People, a construction Höller made with Rosemarie Trockel that was exhibited in documenta X, which Höller described as a “monument of incomprehensibility. The amazement that comes back every time we observe an animal… the pigs are so similar to us, they set off strong biophile sentiments, mainly among children….” In a conversation with Daniel Birnbaum, Höller continues, “…It is difficult for us to believe that our consciousness—my consciousness—can correspond to an other’s. Only if others behave like me, am I prepared to accept it—and still consider my own being unique, as do all other humans. Perhaps it is only this uniqueness that a bird doesn’t believe in. Is it missing the process of a feedback with its ‹own›”. Other animal works include Loverfinches (1992-1994), Aquarium (1996), The Belgian Problem (2007), Singing Canaries Mobile (2009), and, with Rosemarie Trockel, Mosquito Bus (1996), Addina (1997), Bee House (1999), Silverfish House (1999) and Eyeball: a House for Pigeons, People, and Rats (2000)