Mad world: Carsten Höller creates a dizzying funhouse in Milan
German artist Carsten Höller has a twisted sense of humour if his new exhibition in Milan is anything to go by. ‘Doubt’ divides the darkened space of Pirelli HangarBicocca into a parallel duet of artworks, and it is here that ringmaster Höller coaxes, corrals and cajoles visitors into a complex and oft-dizzying array of interactive installations.
Visitors are prompted at the start of the show to follow one of two forked paths through a pitch-black, labyrinthine path (Decision Corridors, 2015) before being thrust into Höller’s mad funhouse. ‘You might have the feeling that you are missing out on something because there is always another possibility, or there is always another way to do it,’ the artist says. It’s Choose Your Own Adventure with a dizzying dose of carnival chaos.
Höller devotees will recognise many of the works on show from his major London exhibition at Hayward Gallery last summer. Inside HangarBicocca’s vast halls, the gargantuan pieces get a new lease of life against the gallery’s soaring ceilings – and the darkness lends itself well to a dazzling ballet of flashing lights.
The artist’s Upside-Down Goggles (1994/2011) turns the exhibition topsy-turvy and into a positively hallucinatory (and even nauseating) experience; a pair of chair swing rides motor slowly along with a comical sense of anticlimax; while more adventurous visitors can experience the sensation of flight in Two Flying Machines (2015). Meanwhile, French artist Philippe Parreno makes a cameo at his friend’s show, presenting two lighting works from his recent exhibition in the space – a nod to the notion of collaboration linked to the practice of both artists.
At the end of the show, a near-blinding light installation unites visitors in the centre of the gallery’s Cubo space, where two single hospital beds await, drifting slowly and endlessly – a welcome respite from the frenzy (and also available to visitors who wish to spend the night). Just one token of advice: come with an empty stomach.