You can fly, surround yourself with giant toadstools, and go through tunnels. It can seem like a voyage to the centre of the Earth, but, in reality, this is a journey as playful as it is intimate. The emotion of interaction is the purpose of the work of Carsten Höller. The Belgian artist is about to arrive in the exhibition halls of Pirelli HangarBicocca. The exhibition will start on 7th April and you will have time to enjoy it until 31st July. It winds through parallel journeys which leave free initiative to the visitor, allowing them to assess their reaction to their own feelings. You can content yourself simply with observation, but the true taste of the experience comes from experimenting with sensations, playing with the time and space co-ordinates and indeed dreaming away on one of the beds which rise and fall in the silence of isolation. The exhibition was conceived by the artistic director of Pirelli HangarBicocca, Vicente Todolí, the man who, since May 2012, has injected increased creative vigour into the exhibition area which is gaining ever greater traction in the collective imagination of Milan, but especially within the artistic urban landscape.
In Höller’s exhibitions, the exhibition space become crucial. How did Pirelli HangarBicocca react about this?
“Our exhibition space is divided into two implantations: the ‘Shed’, where architecture is merely an influence, and the ‘Navate’where the architecture is the determining factor. Hosting exhibitions that create a dialogue with the physical aspects of our museum is at the centre of our journey. Therefore, Carsten Höller and his work are perfect guests. Indeed, it is probable that these exhibits, placed inside such a large space, can convey to the visitor the authentic emotion for which they have been conceived, thus fully achieving the purpose of art”.
It is difficult to explain these interactive exhibits. What would you say about them?
“Simply that what you see is only half the story. The exhibits comprise imagination and emotion. The emotion comes from the interaction. Often we ask ourselves what is the purpose of art, and in this case it is to instil doubt. Höller has scientific training and doubting is at the basis of research”.
What can happen to anyone who chooses to test these installations?
“Something beautiful: the experience of disequilibrium and insecurity. No fear but just the joy of being able to experiment”.
You have been in charge of Pirelli HangarBicocca since May 2012. What journey have you made up until today?
“Drop after drop the spot has grown bigger. When the first drop falls you never think that you will ever see the outcome. Then, however, the effects become noticeable. We have created value and presence. Our programme until the end of 2018 is not a growing straight line, but a circle because every exhibition is connected by a dialogue with the previous one and with the one that follows.
Has the relationship with the city of Milan changed?
“We were on the outskirts, but now we belong to the centre. We collaborate with the Triennale, with Miart, we have a musical calendar, our international relationships are growing. The cultural Foundations, Nicola Trussardi, Prada and ourselves, have changed the perceptions of Milan as a centre of cultural activity in synergy with fashion and design. We have developed a dialogue with the public who are becoming regular and faithful customers. You do not need to be an art expert to come and see us here, because Pirelli HangarBicocca is above all a public service which is looking for a balance between usability and enjoyment of the exhibition space for everyone”.