Carsten Höller gives a Mexican museum a fresh perspective

The art trickster’s new installation at Museo Tamayo is guaranteed to keep you in suspended animation

Installation view of ‘Sunday.
Installation view of ‘Sunday. Carsten Höller’ at Museo Tamayo, Mexico City.
(Image credit: Stefano Di Puma)

Visitors to Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo these days may find themselves on a higher path, courtesy of an elevated intallation by artist Carsten Höller that brings a new perspective to the museum’s brutalist architecture. The interactive net and steel tunnels – entitled Decision Tubes (2019) – anchors the Stockholm-based artist’s first Latin American survey, which presents a decade-spanning selection from his oeuvre.

Suspended in the light-filled atrium, the labyrinthine web (expanding on Höller’s Decision Corridors first exhibited at London’s Hayward Gallery in 2015) dovetails into various scenarios. Museum-goers may find themselves going through a window or arriving at a different exhibition altogether based on their decisions. Those opting for the roof will encounter a giant mushroom alongside the mesmerising view overlooking Chapultepec Park, where the 37-year-old museum resides.

Decision Corridors, 2019, by Carsten Höller,

Decision Corridors, 2019, by Carsten Höller, installation view at Museo Tamayo.

(Image credit: Pierre Björk)

Walking through a team of installers busy with final touches hours before his opening, Höller notes that he aims beyond a physical connection in audience participation. ‘Instead of looking at a portrait that strives to contain emotions, the viewers altogether witness real human reactions to artworks on each others’ faces,’ the German artist explains. ‘I am after the real depiction of human emotion.’

The artist’s investment in complications of the human experience is further manifested in Two Roaming Beds (2015), a pair of mobile beds equipped with a phone charger and book compartment. Intrepid participants can reserve an overnight stay at the museum, where they can have a private viewing of the exhibition followed by a dream-infused sleep once the gallery lights are switched off.

Far from leaving these nightime visions to chance, Höller’s Insensatus – a special set of toothpastes created at a pharmacy in Vienna – uses plant extracts to guide your dreams to the male, female and infant worlds, although the artist suggests combining all three. The mixture of the activator and multihued pastes on a toothbrush resembles a painter’s palette, according to Höller. ‘Imagine a modernist painter stirring different colours before he starts depicting a landscape,’ he says. ‘In this case, the [toothpastes] open up possibilities to many views and images in dreamers’ subconscious.’

Double Neon Elevator, 2016, by Carsten Höller

Double Neon Elevator, 2016, by Carsten Höller. © Carsten Höller. Courtesy of the artist, and with support by INELCOM, Madrid

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Upside-Down Goggles, 1994,

An updated version of Höller’s ongoing Upside-Down Goggles, 1994, is available for visitors to try on.

(Image credit: Pierre Björk)

mushroom sculptures

One of Höller’s signature mushroom sculptures has been installed atop Museo Tamayo.

(Image credit: Pierre Björk)

installation view at Museo Tamayo

Light Wall, 2007/2017, by Carsten Höller, installation view at Museo Tamayo.

(Image credit: Ramiro Chaves)

Pill Clock (red and white pills), 2015, by Carsten Höller

Pill Clock (red and white pills), 2015, by Carsten Höller.  © Carsten Höller

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano.)

Osman Can Yerebakan is a New York-based art and culture writer. Besides Wallpaper*, his writing has appeared in the Financial Times, GQ UK, The Guardian, Artforum, BOMB, Airmail and numerous other publications. He is in the curatorial committee of the upcoming edition of Future Fair. He was the art and style editor of Forbes 30 Under 30, 2024.