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Carsten Höller

Hard, Hard to be a Baby, Belgium, 1992, Sweden

Children swing, installation on a roof

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris Gallery, Paris

Carsten Holler is a doctor of Pathology (who researched vegetable diseases) and interweaves his scientific expertise with his artistic creativity.

As of the 1990s Holler has used the art world as a place to gain sensory experience, and offered a different kind of artistic experience – one which brings strong sensations and a new and different thinking into the world. Holler’s goal is to cast doubt upon our relations with the familiar world and inject an element of uncertainty into them. He accomplishes this by means of pieces causing an immediately disturbing effect.

The piece exhibited here mocks the childish desire for pleasure. On the one hand, the swing stirs the viewers to a childish desire to swing, but on the other hand its dangerous positioning, on a playground next to a road of swift flowing traffic, frustrates that expectation. Thus Holler creates a tension between the public’s desires and its inability to realise them, due to problems of control.

Stripping the swing of its day to day practical qualities transforms it into a kinetic sculpture. The sense of danger it stirs echoes a reality which abandons vulnerable socio-economic groups to life on the border, where the playground seen below is a glaring symbol of a life as defenceless as this one.