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b. 1961, Belgium

Carsten Höller Biography

Carsten Höller is an artist working in the realm of rapture. From carnival rides to flying machines, slides and otherworldly sculptures, Höller generates opportunities for his audiences to experience whimsy and delight. He is often associated with relational aesthetics—a style coined in 1996 by Nicolas Bourriaud that focuses on human exchange and social context over object-based art. Born in 1961 to German parents in Brussels, Höller holds a doctoral degree in agricultural science and worked as a research entomologist until 1994. He began to make art in the late 1980s, alongside other artists experimenting with space and experience such as Pierre Huyghe, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Philippe Parreno.

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One of Höller's earliest works was Flugmaschine (Flying Machine) (1996), a large steel structure to which viewers are strapped with a paragliding harness and hoisted through the air by an electric motor. Yet Höller is perhaps best known for his enormous, tubular slides, the first of which were made for the 1998 Berlin Biennale. Interested in the temporary loss of control while descending a slide, Höller compares the slider's experience to a phrase describing vertigo by the French writer Roger Caillois: a 'voluptuous panic in an otherwise lucid mind.' Or, in the artist's words, it is 'an emotional state . . . somewhere between delight and madness.' In 2000, Höller installed a slide in the office of Miuccia Prada in Milan, and in 2006, he erected what came to be his most widely recognised project: Test Site—a set of five giant slides in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.

In the same year, Höller's carnival rides were exhibited at at MASS MoCA in North Adams. Titled Amusement Park, the machines moved at dramatically slowed speeds and were kinetic sculptures rather than functioning rides. As in his slides, Höller embraced novelty and play while welcoming the viewer's bewilderment upon encountering carnivalesque 'entertainment' in a museum setting. Similarly, in 2014, his Golden Mirror Carousel was installed in an open-air sculpture court at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The spectacular carousel was a shining, gilded structure that also revolved at a slowed pace—approximately one rotation per five minutes. By extracting velocity from where it is expected, Höller asked viewers to contemplate the speed expected from both the entertainment industry and everyday life. Höller again dramatically transformed the museum environment for the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum's theanyspacewhatever exhibition in 2008, when he presented Revolving Hotel Room: an installation comprising large rotating glass disks that became fully operational hotel rooms at night.

The effect of Höller's scientific studies are still evident in the artworks of his that incorporate plants, birds, animals and insects. Singing Canaries Mobile (2009) is a gigantic mobile comprising seven birdcages housing live singing canaries—one of the many kinds of birds that the artist keeps in his Stockholm home. Höller has incorporated mushrooms into his work since 1994; in 2000, he fixed massive, whimsical fungi sculptures to the ceiling for Upside Down Mushroom Room at Fondazione Prada in Milan. Alice in Wonderland-like mushroom replicas (Giant Triple Mushrooms [2010]) were seen in his aptly titled 2011 survey exhibition Experience at the New Museum in New York. Höller selected the species of mushrooms (often fly agaric) based on their psychotropic properties. Also seen in Experience were: Giant Psycho Tank (2000), a sensory-deprivation pool that invited viewers to feel temporarily bodiless; Experience Corridor, in which viewers were invited to undertake self-experiments; and Animal Group (2011), an assemblage of life-sized and surreally coloured replicas of creatures.

Höller often describes his art as experiments and likes to bring his work outside of museums. In late 2017, he opened a nine-storey site-specific slide at the entrance to a mall, titled Aventura Slide Tower (2017)—his first permanent slide tower in the United States.

Höller is currently based in Stockholm and shares a house in Ghana with Marcel Odenbach.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018

Carsten Höller Featured Artworks

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Double Mushroom Vitrine (Once) by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerDouble Mushroom Vitrine (Once), 2015Cast Polyurethane mushroom replicas in various sizes, acrylic paint, glass discs, metal pins, vitrine glass, powder-coated metal framework
26 x 26 x 31 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire
Soma Series III by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerSoma Series III, 2008C-prints on Alu-Dibond, wood, acrylic glass frames, five different compositions,
Variable dimensions
PKM Gallery Enquire
Octopus by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerOctopus, 2014Purple-coloured polyurethane, brown glass eyes,
40 x 171 x 120 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire
Slide House Project (Round Tower, Brazzaville) by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerSlide House Project (Round Tower, Brazzaville), 2015Pencil on screen print on Schut Salland paper
82.6 x 67 cm
STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery Contact Gallery
Slide House Project (River Reflective High Rise, Singapore) by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerSlide House Project (River Reflective High Rise, Singapore), 2015Pencil on screen print on Schut Salland paper
67 x 89.26 cm
STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery Contact Gallery
Slide House Project (Central Business District High Rise, Singapore) by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerSlide House Project (Central Business District High Rise, Singapore), 2015Pencil on screen print on Schut Salland paper
48 x 64 cm
STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery Contact Gallery
Slide House Project (Central Business District Corner House, Singapore) by Carsten Höller contemporary artwork
Carsten HöllerSlide House Project (Central Business District Corner House, Singapore), 2015Pencil on screen print on Schut Salland paper
31 x 45.1 cm
STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery Contact Gallery

Carsten Höller Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset
Closed
20 January–7 May 2018 Group Exhibition The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind Hauser & WirthSomerset
Contemporary art exhibition, Carsten Höller, 50% at PKM Gallery, Seoul
Closed
25 November–31 December 2015 Carsten Höller 50% PKM GallerySeoul

Carsten Höller Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian Athens, New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong
PKM Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea PKM Gallery Seoul

Carsten Höller In Ocula Magazine

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale: The World's Largest Outdoor Art Festival Ocula Feature Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale: The World's Largest Outdoor Art Festival By Tessa Moldan, Echigo-Tsumari

Running since 2000, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, the largest outdoor art festival in the world, injects art into the landscape of Japan's snow country, littered in the summertime with phosphorescent, green rice paddies that lie flat beneath the mountains of the southern part of Niigata prefecture. Rather than assigning each edition with a new...

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Local to Global: Gallery Weekend Beijing 2018 Ocula Feature Local to Global: Gallery Weekend Beijing 2018 By Bowen Li, Beijing

Gallery Weekend Beijing was first staged in 2017 on a number of premises, including the fact that Beijing needed an annual event with international appeal to maintain its place as an art destination after the rise of successful art fairs, and an increasing number of museums, in other regional cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. As its title...

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Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tobias Rehberger at STPI, Singapore Ocula Insight Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tobias Rehberger at STPI, Singapore By Elliat Albrecht

A familiar childhood activity to many, the game of 'exquisite corpse' was invented by the Surrealists as a means of assembling disparate images—usually of bodies—to create an unusual and often humorous result. To play, one player draws part of an image, then folds the paper so as to hide their work and reveal only a hint of what the...

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Carsten Höller In Related Press

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Apple’s AR Experience Puts Products Ahead of Art Related Press Apple’s AR Experience Puts Products Ahead of Art 11 September 2019, Art in America

The trouble with [AR]T—an augmented reality initiative produced by Apple in collaboration with the New Museum—began when I tried to get tickets. Because it was framed as a free public art experience, I thought that the [AR]T Walk would be easily accessible, like a drop-in guided tour at a museum. But Apple's home page offered no...

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'We Had to Create Something New': Klaus Biesenbach on Inventing the Berlin Biennale Related Press 'We Had to Create Something New': Klaus Biesenbach on Inventing the Berlin Biennale 7 June 2018, ARTnews

Many of the art spaces in early '90s Berlin were located in vacant, abandoned, often ruined buildings that artists had taken over. Artists were running studio collectives and co-ops, outfitting surprising storefronts, and creating nightclubs and music programs. One very influential artist for me was Daniel Pflumm, who was organizing the...

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At STPI Creative Workshop, four artists collaborate on an exhibition of 'Exquisite Trust' Related Press At STPI Creative Workshop, four artists collaborate on an exhibition of 'Exquisite Trust' 3 April 2017, designboom

Exquisite Trust (Blindly Collective Collaborations) is an exhibition taking place at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute from March 18th to April 22nd, 2017. a collaboration between four major international artists — Carsten Höller, Tobias Rehberger, Anri Sala and Rirkrit Tiravanija — the exhibition represents a joint undertaking on the part of...

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The beasts within: Artists tap into their wild sides for a roaring show Related Press The beasts within: Artists tap into their wild sides for a roaring show 26 November 2016, Wallpaper*

Rarely before have we seen such a long and varied list of contributors, as we do in Marian Goodman Gallery's group show Animality. The 'cast of creatures' ranges from dogs, camels, fish to octopi, and charts a history from George Orwell to Gabriel Orozco by way of Marcel Broodthaers. Curator Jens Hoffmann, never one to turn down a...

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