New and rarely seen earlier works by Carsten Höller on view at Gagosian

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New and rarely seen earlier works by Carsten Höller on view at Gagosian
Carsten Höller, Half Clock, 2021 (detail), neon, cables, stainless steel, acrylic glass, DMX boxes, and controller, 24 7/8 × 31 1/2 × 31 1/2 inches (63 × 80 × 80 cm) © Carsten Höller. Photo: Carl Henrik Tillberg.

PARIS.- Gagosian announces Clocks, an exhibition of new and rarely seen earlier works by Carsten Höller. Occupying the gallery at rue de Castiglione and the exterior-facing vitrine at rue de Ponthieu, the exhibition focuses on how the measurement of time impacts human ways of being.

Höller applies scientific procedures to his work as an artist with playful and sometimes dark humor. Many of the projects that comprise his “Laboratory of Doubt”—from twisting slides to vision-flipping goggles—incorporate disorienting experiences to be conducted on oneself.

“I wanted to make the most complicated clock on earth,” says Höller of Half Clock (2021). In this neon sculpture, three encapsulated spheres of curved lighting tubes represent seconds, minutes, and hours. Time is indicated by the division of the surface of each sphere into spatial units, which are themselves divided into consecutively smaller parts. While half of the time is not represented at all—hence the work’s title—the clock’s accuracy increases with each subsequent division of space.

Another neon work, Decimal Clock (2023), also registers time in an unfamiliar manner, applying the decimal system to a numberless illuminated disc composed of twenty blue and orange neon rings, which account for ten decimal “hours,” one hundred decimal “minutes,” and one hundred decimal “seconds.” This calibration reverts to one proposed during the French Revolution, reminding us that the variant to which we are accustomed is a rather clumsy construction.

The darkened glass panels of Black Sliding Window (2023) mark time by opening on the hour, as well as whenever they are approached. Making the behavior of the viewer its subject, the work also enacts an explicit, active connection between chronology, movement, and space.

On view in the vitrine at the rue de Ponthieu gallery is Giant Triple Mushroom (2023), a two-meter-high sculpture in polychrome aluminum. The work’s form combines enlarged cross-sections of three different species of mushroom, including the red-capped fly agaric, reflecting Höller’s fascination with the idea that this notoriously toxic and hallucinogenic fungus may have played a role in the development of shamanism, and thus constitutes a link to ancient proto-religious culture. The three species also represent evolutionary time, as the different shapes, colors, and psychoactive ingredients of their fruiting bodies most certainly evolved from those of a common ancestor. Finally, Giant Triple Mushroom resonates with Höller’s continued exploration of doubling and rupture, and hence to the division and subdivision of time that is visualized in the clock works.

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