The New Fun New Museum

I just attended the press preview for “Carsten Höller: Experience,” a show opening tomorrow at the New Museum. If you know Höller’s work, it’s probably the big slide that was installed at the Tate Modern a couple of years ago. I happened to first hear of him a few years before that, when he had a show at MASS MoCA; there was a mirrored carousel that rotated in the slowest possible time, but by the time I made it up to North Adams, it was gone.

The New Museum show has both a slide (it goes from the fourth floor to the second—I had hoped it broke through the exterior of the building, but that probably was too much to expect) and a carousel. I thought the carousel was beautiful but not interesting to ride, perhaps because I had to lift my legs, making it a sort of isometric exercise instead of anything meditative.

There’s a lot more, and I won’t give it all away. A few things you’ll want to know:

••• To ride the slide, float in the isolation tank, or ride (i.e. sit on) the carousel, you have to sign a waiver in the lobby. The waiver mentions the strobe lights on the second floor and how they cause convulsions in some people. I’m not surprised.

• To ride the slide, you have to either find someone to hold your stuff or check it at the coat check or in the lockers in the basement. You can’t take a camera on the slide. I did ride it, and enjoyed it—I think us larger folks get a more thrilling experience, thanks to gravity.

• Up to six people can be in the “Giant Psycho Tank” at a given time, and swimsuits are optional. (How European!) I skipped it, but not for that reason—I had already swam once this morning. Towels are provided, as are robes and flip-flops.

• To use the upside-down goggles, you have to sign another waiver and hand over a credit card. The goggles evidently cost $1,500 to replace, so be careful. (I thought it was worth it, although I was done with them in about a minute and a half. They are deeply wooze-inducing.) By the way, you can wear glasses under them.

• Do take the back staircase that runs between the fourth and third floors.

• Don’t miss the infrared room. As you can see from my photo, I had some fun with my glasses. And then an alarm went off, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it was part of the art?

Also, today the museum opened a new space to the south, Studio 231. The artist showing there is Spartacus, and it’s a happening in the most ’60s sense of the word.

P.S. I always forget not to shoot video in horizontal, and I’m not paying Apple just to upgrade to software that would let me rotate it. If anyone knows how to do it, let me know.

"Giant Triple Mushrooms" (2010)

"Giant Psycho Tank" (1999). Because there are only four robes, I assume two people were in it.

Seeing through the "Upside-Down Goggles" (2009/2011).

"Singing Canaries Mobile" (2009)

"Mirror Carousel" (2005)

"Infrared Room" (2004)

Studio 231

The art happening by Spartacus.



  1. Re: vertical videos – Picasa (free and Mac compatible) has a rotate button that has worked fine on my incorrectly oriented videos!

  2. @Andrea: Thanks! I’m conflicted about Picasa because I get a daily reminder to update the software even though I’ve never used it, but maybe I’ll break down….