Thursday, November 3, 2011

My "Experience"

Carsten Holler: Experience at The New Museum
10/26/11 - 1/15/12

My hopes for Carsten Holler’s Experience at the New Museum were unusually high. While researching the exhibition I had imagined swirling around on the Mirror Carousel (2005), and gliding down the Untitiled (Slide) (2011). I also felt a titillating excitement when I thought about getting into the Giant Psycho Tank (1999) with others; clothes optional. Unfortunately, my visit did not live up to my grand expectations.

As I entered the lobby I was confronted by a series of lines reminiscent of the wait for Splash Mountain at Disneyland. At the end of these waits were two lengthy waivers: one for the use of Holler’s upside-down glasses and the other that outlined instructions for the “rides.” I skipped the line for the glasses and signed the other mandatory waiver. I was then ready for my “experience.”

I ventured up to the fourth floor in excitement for my descent on the slide, only to be faced with an even bigger line. Frustrated and annoyed I decided to hop on the Mirror Carousel, a swing ride and carousel hybrid, first to bide some time. After a minute or so I got off feeling unsatisfied due to it’s unbearably slow speed thinking maybe I had set my expectations too high.

I still had hope for the slide so I waited for my drop through the gallery to the second floor. I admit I felt uneasy as I stood and watched others enter the mouth of the metal structure. Sometimes the slide-goers would let out a scream that echoed throughout the museum that often resulted in laughter. I was then ready for the plunge.

I zoomed through to the bottom in a couple of seconds. Again, disappointment set in. Was this Holler’s intention? The rest of my experience was less than satisfactory. I was only inclined to go into the Experience Corridor, four rooms adorned with self-experiments, to escape the flickering Double Light Corner, a wall-mounted light installation sure to induce epileptic seizures, which plagued the second floor. After sniffing the “love drug” that warned of amorous feelings after inhaling, I made my way up to the third floor.

While witnessing another lengthy line for the Giant Psycho Tank, I decided to call it a day. At the end of my visit I felt disheartened and strangely disoriented. I think the most enjoyable part of my “experience” was knowing I hadn’t waited for those silly upside-down glasses.


  1. Macey, I think you give an excellent first-hand account of the visitor experience at the Holler show, which was a clever strategy given that the crux of the show was in its interactiveness.

    As a review, however, I feel like it could have been more descriptive of the works themselves, and maybe given a little more insight as to what you thought they meant, as in their relation to one another, other than the obvious fact that they are interactive.

    One line that I loved was: "I was only inclined to go into the Experience Corridor to escape the flickering Double Light Corner, a light installation that plagued the second floor." Escaping the plagued second floor was such an apt description! Would have been great if you had described the light installation a little more.

  2. I agree with Sara, you gave a beautiful description of your hopes for the show and your disappointment with what you encountered. Your review almost read as a narrative fictional story which gave it strength and kept me interested but I hoped for more concise description about the works and their meaning.
    It also might have been nice if you had included your thoughts on what the artist might have been thinking when laying out the exhibition. Did he even consider the wait times? Is that part of the experience?
    I loved how descriptive of your emotions you were and I think you could definitely dig deeper and give the reader some sense of what you felt the artist was thinking when setting up the exhibition.

  3. I can call this experience the disappointment of the high expectations. Your writing brought a flashback of the whole unpleasant experience I had in this exhibition. Especially that I felt sick and unhappy after using the slide.

    Using your own experience to illustrate the show was interesting to read. But in certain areas it started to sound like a journal more than an art review. That’s why I totally agree with Sara point view about adding some descriptions of the artworks themselves. Such as: materials used, the size of the installations, and the atmosphere around using lighting and sound effect (the birds in the cages). I think you can also discuss the purpose of creating such an art show. I remember seeing a sculpture in the third floor, showing the slide used in a building for transportation! I really wonder if this new concept is practical for daily use instead of having stairs or elevators!