Tate and Unilever today announced that the German artist Carsten Höller will undertake the seventh commission in The Unilever Series for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern (10 October 2006 – April 2007).
Born in Brussels in 1961, Carsten Höller currently lives in Sweden. He is one of the most important artists of his generation and his work ranges from the purely conceptual to the elaborately architectural. Existing first as concepts, Höller’s works frequently require participation from the viewer to take their final form. Well used to working on a large scale, he demonstrates his central concerns which relate to human behaviour, the questioning of logic, altered states of mind and perception. His explorations often involve playful elements such as in Sliding Doors (2003), a series of electronic sliding doors with a mirrored surface through which the audience passes in a seemingly endless passage (first presented in Common Wealth, an exhibition at Tate Modern in 2003) and Upside-Down Mushroom Room (2000) which features enormous, fabricated red and white fly-agaric mushrooms, their stalks fixed to the ceiling, slowly rotating in a mesmerising way.
While Höller’s knowledge of perceptual theory and physiology has found its way into his art (he has a doctorate in agricultural science from the University of Kiel (1988)), he states that he has never intended to bridge the gap between art and science. He sometimes makes reference in his work to researchers from different fields of experimentation but uses these not to establish knowledge, but to encourage uncertainty and perplexity. For example, Upside-Down Goggles (1994-2001) was inspired by an experiment by the American psychologist George M. Stratton who, in 1897, wrote an article about seeing without the natural inversion of the retinal image. Where Stratton explains the inversion, Höller forces the spectator to remain with the upturned image.
Among the well known works by this artist is a series of slides made from 1998 that is an ongoing project. Not only are slides a practical means of transportation, but the act of sliding down one produces a loss of control, inducing a particular state of mind related to freedom from constraint. His most famous slides include that made for the offices of Miuccia Prada in Milan (2000) and the first slides made for the Berlin Biennial in 1998.
Carsten Höller has contributed on numerous occasions to the Lyons and Venice biennials and has exhibited widely in Europe, Asia and America. He has had major solo exhibitions at the Prada Foundation, Milan, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Musée d’art Contemporain, Marseille. An exhibition by Höller, Amusement Park, which takes the form of a funfair and which will be added to over the course of a year, will open at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusettes on 21 January 2006.
Vicente Todolí, Director of Tate Modern, said: “Carsten Höller involves his audience in explorations intended to generate visual events and stimulate feelings and thoughts to bring about shared experiences. We look forward to seeing what Höller will create for this seventh commission in The Unilever Series.“
Gavin Neath, Chairman of Unilever UK, said: “The Unilever Series at Tate Modern has been described as one of the toughest challenges in the art world. As with the six artists before him, Unilever is proud to support this commission and has no doubt that he will rise to the challenge admirably.”
The Unilever Series: Carsten Höller is curated by Jessica Morgan, Curator Tate, with assistance from Vincent Honoré, Assistant Curator, Tate.