International exhibitions

International Archives 2nd half of 2014

Carsten Höller. LEBEN

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna (Austria)

10.07 - 23.11.2014

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E-Flux Press release

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21-Augarten) in cooperation with the Belvedere, Vienna, presents LEBEN, an exhibition of the Belgian-German artist Carsten Höller. LEBEN pivots around a selection of works, drawn from TBA21's collection of contemporary art and others commissioned and conceived especially for the exhibition—that invite specific forms of interaction, induce moods and affects, and generate "oriented" behaviors. The exhibition visitors encounter an ensemble of familiar devices, tools, constructions, and objects that have the uncanny capacity to orient, model, and intercept, creating both a physical and conceptual space of experimentation.


Carsten Höller. LEBEN, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2014. All Rights Reserved

The central element within the exhibition space—Elevator Bed (2010)—is as much a proposition as it is an installation. The bed is mounted on a hydraulic rotating platform, which raises to different heights, up to a maximum of 3.5 meters. It can be booked on a nightly basis through Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom and offers guests a unique and solitary overnight experience in the foundation's exhibition grounds in Vienna's lush Augarten Park. Before going to sleep, guests are instructed to brush their teeth with Insensatus Vol. 1 Fig. 1; a dream-inducing series of toothpastes based on an original recipe devised by Höller and the perfumer Ben Gorham. The water in High Psycho Tank, a newly devised flotation tank for two, contains a high concentration of Epsom salts. Visitors must undress and float on the water's surface to experience a sense of weightlessness and sensory equilibrium. Half Clock accompanies and structures the current exhibition—it is a newly created work that functions as both a utilitarian time display and a seemingly illogical conundrum, with its apparent ability to alternately speed up or slow down the passage of time. High above the heads of viewers, two pairs of trained bullfinches housed within a set of balanced aviaries form the Bullfinch Scale, and whistle a melody that becomes part of the soundtrack of the exhibition.

Exhibition July 9-September - November 13, 2014. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary-Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A - 1020 Vienna (Austria). Tel.: +43 (0)1 513 98 56 24. Hours: Wednesday-Thursday n00n-5 pm, Friday-Sunday noon-7pm. Free admission.

Carsten Höller, Aufzugbett (Elevator Bed), 2010. Installation. Photo: Attilio Maranzano.

Carsten Höller, Aufzugbett (Elevator Bed), 2010. Installation. Photo: Attilio Maranzano.

© Carsten Höller / Bildrecht Vienna 2014

The newly created film installation Fara Fara features auditions and rehearsals for a musical clash between two stars of the vibrant Congolese music scene. The work introduces themes of duality and juxtaposition. Similar themes of duplication and division are prominent throughout the exhibition but specifically in Höller's Vienna Twins. Here, two identical siblings lead a completely logical, and at the same time confusing, conversation sung in a rhythmic and repetitive structure. Outside, on the Augarten grounds, a moment of visual dissection is captured sculpturally in the Giant Multiple Mushrooms. The two oversized fungi, one mature and the other still developing, are composed of four split mushroom bodies and constitute a surreal moment of hybridity.

One of the highlights of the TBA21 collection by Höller, titled Y (2003), is installed in the spectacular Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere. This amusement fair-like tunnel spins around the visitor like a vortex. Y-shaped, it articulates the dilemma of individual choice as a question of contingency, with which visitors can also decide, or not, to continue their parcours of the exhibition at TBA21–Augarten.