Carsten Höller

Following his studies in agronomy and a specialization in entomology, Höller’s work as an artist is influenced by his scientific studies and interests. Initially, he especially focused on the forms natural evolutionary forces take on in their relationships with human emotivity. He began to relate his knowledge acquired as a biologist to evolution theories, directing his interest to those types of feelings—such as love, affection, and joy—that are essential elements for a favorable reproduction of human genetics. At the same time, he studied human beings as simple animal creatures from among other animals.
In developing installations and interactive sculptures, Höller consequently became interested in creating structures capable of inducing states of excitement, alteration, doubt, and confusion in the public (quite often in a playful way). By using the public as the subject of perceptive and psychological experiments, he studies and explores specific problems tied to the relationship between the individual and diverse psychological and emotive conditions.
Over the years, he has gradually become more interested in matters concerning perceptive functions, using art as the medium for carrying out both symbolic and real experiments. This has produced projects, actions, films, videos, and complex environmental installations—a few between 1997 and 1999 in collaboration with Rosemarie Trockel—including plants, animals, and persons. Here the intention has been to facilitate different forms of interactivity involving all human senses. His audiovisual production adopts a different style, depending on the exhibition contexts and his collaboration with other artists. [F.B.]

List of Works

Jenny, 1992
video, color, sound, 13 min.
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli-Turin
Structured as a series of independent scenes, this video with its almost cartoon-like narration extends the exploration of some of the themes that are key to the artist’s work: the idea of safety, child-like curiosity, pleasure and joy as physical states, play, and the dynamic relationship between doubt and certainty.
Preparing traps on a beach, the methodical process of poisoning children’s candy, both shown in the video, demonstrate Höller’s intention of undermining given cultural and ethical categories.