Sunday is the title of Carsten Höller’s solo show currently on view at the Mexico City museum eponymously named for famed Oaxacan artist, Rufino Tamayo. Höller, a German artist born in Belgium, sees the museum as a laboratory where he can experiment with perception. According to docents, Höller, a trained entomologist, decided against a title wall, labels, or curatorial references for any of the works.
Walking into Sunday is a kinetic and sensorial experience, with all senses engaged at once, starting with six mirrored sliding doors that distort spatial perception. There is no exhibit rhythm, as one is used to feeling in a major museum show. What you will find, instead, is that Höller has used every bit of space, including the building’s rooftop, to place the viewer in an altered state — pleasurable and disturbing at the same time.
“Is it museum or toy factory?” I asked myself as I looked upon hundreds of young people, ages 15 to 30, enthralled in Höller’s playground. Some waited in long lines. Selfies? No problem. Virtual reality gadgets? This show’s got you covered. Meshed maze obstacle course suspended two stories in the air? Interactive light show? Step right up. Spinning hospital beds that paint the floor? (Yes, there are two). A chamber that doesn’t move but makes you feel like you are in an elevator? A magic mushroom installation? Ready for a hallucinatory experience? Yes, yes to all of it… there’s plenty of time for it. (There are also beautiful geometric paintings on the walls. That’s as traditional as Sunday gets.)
At first, I was disturbed by the lack of exhibition reference materials. But then I began to understand that what Höller wants is for you to step into his world, his way, and to have an atypical museum experience where he gets to push all the buttons.
Known for combining the disturbing and the ludic in an institutional context, Höller over-delivers here, and makes Sunday a real trip — like a religious experience.
If you have never been to the Tamayo Museum, it is located in Mexico City’s greenbelt, on museum row near Chapultepec Park. Known for its provocative, contemporary exhibitions, The Tamayo Museum is worth a visit. Höller’s Sunday is on display through June 30, 2019. For more information, go here.