The real question is: what sense does it have to sleep? Plutarch wrote that: “Men in their waking state have just one world, common to all. In sleep everybody returns to their own private world.” Though if the world that you are invited to visit is that of Carsten Höller, whose exhibition Doubt is on show until 31 July at the Pirelli HangarBicocca at Milan, perhaps it makes sense to embrace wakefulness, to taste the experience, travelling with your imagination, your memories, dreaming with your eyes wide open. It’s certainly one option. The other is to sleep. And embrace one of the pillows which form part of an exhibit which you can actually lay down upon: the Two Roaming Beds (Grey); formed by two robotic beds in constant motion. The experience, provided by Pirelli HangarBicocca, must be booked in advance. It could be a romantic gift, worth 500 Euros, or 250 Euros for members of the museum (the price is to partially cover the additional costs of the night opening). In any case the idea of spending an entire night in an exhibition feels electrifying. It isn’t a night at the museum, in the traditional sense of the term, yet the cosy atmosphere and surreal sections of the exhibition space have the potential to fascinate. Finding yourself in pyjamas, surrounded by silence, in a place that lives in a second, nocturnal dimension, and in somewhat private surroundings, amplifies this confrontation with the cultural expression of Carsten Höller. The German artist has created interaction between the exhibit and the public, his own way of sharing his art. In fact, Höller starts from the idea the guests will choose irresistible sleep. It is no coincidence that part of the exhibit is a set of special, coloured toothpastes, designed and realised exclusively by the artist and capable of causing a more intense, surreal experience and vivid dream recollection. How? The three toothpastes have particular tastes which recall the male, female or child spheres, and are part of a special kit given to visitors to the exhibition. The tubes represent different colours, and symbolically the gouaches used in painting. While the toothbrush becomes a virtual pen to colour your dreams. As Höller confirms: “It’s like a painter, sitting in front of a landscape in Provence and mixing colours in their palette to paint it... The same thing is happening here”.
While the beds, by moving continually within the 500m2 space of the Cube are almost floating, as if flying carpets, immersing you in this enchanting atmosphere. The exhibition Doubt, curated by Vicente Todolì, has a total of 20 exhibits, all with a strong visual impact and designed to shake up the visitor, putting them in touch with their own influences, at times with fears or phobias, but also and above all with the desire of positive emotions, to feel the joy that art can transmit and generate. The objective is to generate sensory participation. Which is why there is Two Flying Machines, which enables visitors to experience the sensation of flying, and Double Carousel, the merry-go-round for adults which takes you back to wonders of ancient times. And then lighting devices, tunnels, and environments which intend to leave you open-mouthed. All of it, in a certain sense, under the watchful eye of the work of Anselm Kiefer, who with his The Seven Heavenly Palaces, represents the pillars of Pirelli HangarBicocca, the custodians of a cultural message and the artistic space. The promise is in any case of a unique night, made truly special with a curiosity to that which is different.