At New Museum, Carsten Höller Creates a Waiver-Worthy ‘Experience’

NEW YORK—Usually, going to a museum means paying an admission fee, reading the exhibit copy and observing the art from a safe distance.

At the New Museum, where Carsten Höller’s “Experience” show is in its last week, after ponying up at the door you queue up to sign a liability waiver for the 102-foot slide. The tubular installation starts on the fourth floor of the museum, descends through the third, and deposits visitors on the second.

There’s a stunning mirrored carousel (waiver required), a psychedelic flashing light installation, florescent animal sculptures and giant mushroom sculptures. You can also recline with your head inserted in a fish tank. In anticipation of the exhibit’s conclusion, “Giant Psycho Tank,” the sensory deprivation pool (waiver required), was closed down last week.

Höller was a scientist before he began making art and the experimental nature of his early career is a fundamental part of his current work. According to the museum, his interactive environments “are designed to explore the limits of human sensorial perception and logic through carefully controlled participatory experiences.”

The exhibit—the first New York survey of the German artist’s work—is quite an adventure.

“Carsten Höller: Experience” is on view from Oct. 26, 2011, to Jan. 22, 2012.

All photos by Arts Observer

“Untitled (Slide),” with “Animal Group” in background.

“Untitled (Slide),” 2011 (stainless steel slide segments, polycarbonate upper shell, steel supports). Visitors wear helmets and use canvas mats for sliding.

“Singing Canaries Mobile,” 2009. The welfare of the male singing canaries is supervised by an official with the Human Society of New York.


“Giant Triple Mushrooms,” 2010 (polyester paint, synthetic resin, acrylic paint, wire, putty, polyurethane, rigid foam, stainless steel).

Detail of “Giant Triple Mushrooms,” 2010.

Installation view of “Double Light Corner” with “Animal Group.”

“Mirrored Carousel,” 2005.

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