Visitors climb through Carsten Höllers Decision Tubes (2019), mesh tunnels suspended in the atrium of the Museo Tamayo
Photo: ©Gil Camargo/ @_gilcamargo

In the hot sun outside Mexico Citys Museo Tamayo, I squint up at Giant Triple Mushroom, Carsten Höllerssculpture perched on the roof of the museum. As the finishing touches are being made on his first Mexican retrospective, Sunday, Höller gives me a sunburned smile and says: “Its kind of a trap.” To reach the sculpture, visitors must climb through Decision Tubes (2019), mesh tunnels suspended in the atrium that lead to different parts of the museum. Over the past three decades, Höller has become known for his carnivalesque installations that playfully disorient visitors. Sunday does just that, with flashing lights, moving walls, mirrors, and mysterious pills.

These effects may not be pleasant, but for Höller, that is ideal. “I want to force you to get under the influence of what this does to you,” he says about the shows most nauseating work, Light Wall (2000/2017), a floor-to-ceiling installation of light bulbs flashing on and off 7.8 times per second. He recommends visitors close their eyes to induce hallucinations. “I want you to feel like this is going on forever, wherever you are, its never going to be stable again.” As we linger in this room, yellow and blue tones begin to emerge and zigzagging diamond patterns waft across my retinas.

While this works dizzying light frequencies brings colour to the minds eye, visions of lushness also abound just beyond the museums doors in Chapultepec Park. Scores of vendors line up to display mountains of colourful chips, spicy fruits, and plastic toys to families strolling the park. People swarm around the Museo Tamayo on the opening weekend of Höllers first major exhibition in Mexico, with attendance nearing around 6,000 visitors per day. The frenzy of entertainment inside the museum is a natural continuation of the spirited forms of public recreation outside.

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Scores of vendors line up to display mountains of colourful chips, spicy fruits, and plastic toys to families strolling through Chapultepec Park
Photo: Vanessa Thill

Perhaps because of this, the most effective work in the exhibition is Swinging Spiral (2010/2016), a spiral-shaped wooden room hung from cables that hovers just above the ground. To enter or exit the space, visitors must squeeze through a tiny gap. Inside, the walls sway softly, creating a sea-legged sense of unease. The museum docent ushers me “adelante”, to go ahead into the spiral, toward a tiny dead-end nook for a rare moment of peace.

Large-scale architectural works tend to be Höllers forte, while the pieces that rely more specifically on pop culture come off as non sequitur and arbitrary. For example, Moving Image (1994-2004), a flickering slide projection of Mohammed Ali, is the only figurative image detectable in the exhibition. “Boxing is about movement,” Höller offers tentatively. I remain dubious of the function of this work, and the use of a black body as illustrative of a technical effect or abstracted dynamic. The absence of wall text in the exhibition leaves viewers guessing, causing several to write frustrated notes in the front desks comment book about difficulty navigating the show.

Yet provoking bewilderment is one of the artists primary goals. Red and white capsules drop from the ceiling into a pile in Pill Clock (2015), and viewers are encouraged to dose themselves. When I ask, “Whats inside?” he simply says, “Exactly.” It is hard to tell if these participatory, drug-themed works are offered ironically, especially given the recent spotlight on the Sackler familys art-washing of their opioid fortune. But Höllers work tends to candidly encourage a shift in perspective, ratherRead More – Source


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