City Officials Give the New Museum's Carsten Höller Show the Green Light

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Carson Höller's sensory deprivation pool, where viewers can float in a body-temperature saline mix, now installed at the New Museum.. Carson Höller's sensory deprivation pool, where viewers can float in a body-temperature saline mix, now installed at the New Museum.. (Photo: © Attilio Maranzano. Courtesy the artist and New Museum of Contemporary Art.)

Since the New Museum's Carsten Höller "Experience" exhibition opened last Wednesday, city agencies have been investigating three of the show's installations: a 100-foot tube slide, a mirrored carousel and a saline sensory deprivation pool.

On Tuesday, city officials gave the green light to the installations.

When the show opened last week, the museum had not received approvals for the slide or for the carousel. The city's Department of Consumer Affairs (D.C.A.) requires buildings or museums with large components like slides, swings or rides on their premises to acquire Temporary Amusement Device licenses. The Department of Buildings conducts inspections of such components for the D.C.A.

After the museum was told of the licensing rule, it submitted its application. The city's Department of Buildings inspected the slide and carousel on Tuesday.

"Our elevator unit inspected it today and it passed inspection," said Jennifer Gilbert, spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings.

Abigail Lootens, a spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Affairs, said there had not been another museum in recent memory that had applied for, or was required to get, a Temporary Amusement Device license.

City officials had also taken issue with a work in the Höller show called "Giant Psycho Tank," a pool which museum visitors are encouraged to participate in by disrobing and floating nude in the pool.

Last Friday, the New York City Health Department said it had contacted New Museum administrators and advised them that the pool required approval and a permit to comply with the city's Health Code. The museum said it had subsequently spoken with the Health Department and that it had decided to limit attendance to the pool to one person at a time, which is permitted by code.

"This change does not alter the physical experience of floating in the tank's salinated water, nor does it change the sculpture's intent, which is about the physical sensation rather than group interaction," said Gabriel Einsohn, the Communications Director for the New Museum.

Despite the controversy around the show, Einsohn said that "Experience" had been breaking museum attendance records, bringing in twice as many visitors each day to the museum as compared with other shows.

Here's the carousel in question, courtesy of WNYC Arts Critic Carolina Miranda:

Höller's mirrored carousel, a sculpture from 2005, moves at almost imperceptible speeds. There is something incredibly soothing about it.And the 100-foot slide:

The slide works its way through the third floor gallery and deposits riders on the second floor, below.


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Comments [4]

There's nothing even remotely "vulgar" about that photo.

Nov. 02 2011 12:08 PM
Susan from Upper West Side

You'd have to zoom in really close and some sort of digital enhancement to really see anything with those camera angles. You can see more suggestive advertisements on city bus stops. I'd rather my 12 year old son see this than some of the ads.

Nov. 02 2011 09:45 AM

I don't see anything vulgar here. Museums are full of nude people (mostly women). This happens to be a naked bather. Big deal!

Nov. 01 2011 08:04 PM
Bernie from UWS

Whoa, I thought this was a family web site. Would you have vulgarity on your airwaves? Maybe you should consider that before posting graphic nudity!

Nov. 01 2011 07:52 PM

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