The Hayward Gallery is bringing the work of Carsten Höller to London starting in June. Improbably, the gallery has managed to take the spectacle of Höller’s last museum appearance in London—at the Tate Modern in 2006—and turn it all the way up.
For his show at the Tate, Höller installed vast winding slides through the museum’s Turbine Hall. Now, only nine years later, he’s doing the very same thing at the Hayward, just on the outside of the building. That’s in addition to the winding slide the artist punched through the floors of the New Museum in New York in 2011. And at the Prada offices in Milan in 2000, and at the Berlin Biennale in 1998, and so on and so on.
The artist tells the BBC that the slides at the Hayward are there for “experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness”.
Museums aren’t buying into redundant Höller exhibitions for the wafer-thin societal critique. The slides are just one of a piece with the spectacle-driven art exhibitions that have come to dominate museum calendars—and therefore, the cultural platforms of major cities. If museums insist on commissioning artists to work at the glib scale of starchitecture, then it’s time to start thinking of museums as malign developers.
The Atlantic CityLabs