Milan / May 05 —July 08, 2011
Massimo De Carlo opens Carsten Höller’s solo show Animals Works. One of the world's most well known and respected artists returns to Milan with a site specific project that tracks the artist’s interest in the animal kingdom. With a degree in Agronomy, specialised in Phytopathology and a thesis on insect olfactory communication, Carsten Höller conquered the art world during the nineties. He employs a pseudo-scientific approach to investigating objective reality and its perception; disorientation is an intrinsic component of his work.
Kanarienwaage (Canary Scale), a work from 2010, consists of two identical bird cages, suspended, containing a total of 12 male Timbrado Español canaries. At the midpoint of the bar connecting the two cages there is a special measuring device which, depending on the canaries’ most minute movements, registers the height difference between the cages. The work was exhibited last February in the Soma show at the Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin.
Mäuseplatz (Mice Square), also from 2010, is a scaled reproduction of the playground built in 1958 in Haÿ-les-Roses, Paris by Pierre and Vera Szekely. Inside are two laboratory mice, a white female and a black male, who move about freely, reproducing and interacting with the tiny constructions. This work was also exhibited as part of the Soma show in Berlin.
With Walrus (2011), Carsten Höller adds a new figure to the series that reproduces young animals using lifelike pliable rubber and human glass eyes, once again disorienting the viewer. After Dolphins (1995), Elephants (1998), Orangutans (2001), Crocodiles (2002), Rhinos (2005), Hippos (2007) and Reindeer (2009), this time the artist has chosen the baby walrus as his subject, using giraffe tail-hair for its beard.
Bonobo-Sex (1993-1994), by Amy Parish, is an amateur video montage testifying the exuberant sexuality of the bonobo. Grouped in decidedly matriarchal communities, the bonobo consider sex to be an integral part of their social relationships and use so-called “recreational sex” as a method to resolve conflicts and differences. According to some studies, the bonobo shares more than 98% of its genetic makeup with humans.
Aquarium is a work from 1996 that consists of an aquarium containing over 2,000 litres of freshwater with a school of Leuciscus Idus fish swimming inside. It has three niches where viewers can place their heads inside the aquarium.
On the first floor of the gallery, separate from the rest of the exhibition, is Doppelpilzvitrine (Vierundzwanzigfach), 2011, a special museum vitrine holding 24 mushrooms, each composed of two different halves: on one side a Fly Agraric, on the other side edible, inedible or poisonous mushrooms are alternated. On the walls twelve photographic prints of the Mushroom series (2004), realized by the artist between 1999 and 2004 in different swedish forests, and the diptych Amanita & Dog, 1996.
Carsten Höller was born in Brussels in 1961. He lives and works in Stockholm. Among his most recent shows are Soma, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2010); Divided Divided, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2010); Double Slide, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagabria (2009); Carsten Höller - Carrousel, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz (2008); The Double Club, Prada Foundation, London (2008). In 2006, as part of the Unilever Series at the Tate Modern in London, he exhibited Test Site, 5 steel slides. He represented Sweden in the 51st International Art Exhibition - Venice Biennale.