Carsten Höller, Doubt, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan

German born artist Carsten Höller has, over the last 20 years, risen to be an artist of truly international acclaim. Academically trained as a phytopathologist, the artist abandoned his scientific career in the early 1990s to devote himself to art.  Since then, he has exhibited in various locations such as London, New York, Vienna and Berlin, and his work has known great success at the Venice Biennale, having been shown there four times. Splitting his time between Stockholm, Sweden, and Biriwa, Ghana, Höller explores the nature of human experience and how we perceive our realities through a variety of mediums.

Curated by Vicente Todolí, Doubt at Pirelli HangarBicocca collates the artist’s vast and impressive oeuvre. The show is one that intends to evoke feelings of joy, illusion and doubt, through a series of large scale installations, videos and photos as a way of creating both an interactive and sensory experience while also playing on the impact of optical experiments. In splitting the gallery space along its central axis, the exhibition also plays on the ideas of symmetry, duplication and reversal and explores the influence of choice in our perception of art.

Indeed, through the use of an illuminated installation from the very outset of the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to choose between taking either a left or right path. Entitled Y (2003), the piece is flooded with numerous flashing light bulbs and can be walked through in its entirety.This interaction induces the viewer to make a conscious decision regarding which path they take, therefore evoking emotions of doubt and contemplation.

Beyond this, a series of 20 large scale installations contribute to the experimental nature of the exhibition through the inclusion of both optical and sensory experiments. Features works include Upside-Down Goggles (1994 – ongoing), in which the artist invites visitors to see the world bottom-up; Two Flying Machines (2015), in which visitors can experience the sensation of flight; and Double Carousel (2011), a merry-go-round for adults that gives a sense of euphoria and amazement.

The exhibition also includes Two Roaming Beds (Grey) (2015), made up of two beds that drift endlessly through the space, andYellow/Orange Double Sphere (2016), a hanging light-based work composed of two concentric, flickering colored spheres, one inside the other, which interacts with Marquee (2015), a piece by Philippe Parreno from the exhibition previously on view at Pirelli HangarBicocca. In its entirety, Doubt focuses on the use of space, conscious interaction and an emotional progression which evokes, as a result, a consideration of how we each perceive art and how our own, personal decisions may influence this perception.

Carsten Höller, Doubt, 7 April – 31 July, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Via Chiese 220126 Milano.

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1. Carsten Höller, Y, 2003. Courtesy of Pirelli HangarBicocca.