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Carsten Höller
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20, 3015 CX Rotterdam, Netherlands
February 6, 2010 - April 25, 2010

A Valentine’s Day Proposal, or How to Talk About Art to a Scientist
by Andrea Alessi


from Andrea Alessi <>

to B         <    b**********  >

date Sat, February 6, 2010 at 11:42 AM

subject Re: Valentine’s Day 2010

Hey there B-

So I’ve been thinking. Normally I would leave these things up to you, but I haven’t forgotten the lone bike seat you got me for my birthday. It makes me a bit nervous so I’ve decided I’m not leaving anything to chance.

For Valentine’s Day I would like you to take me to an art museum. Please bear with me because I know you’re not into art. I think I can convince you.

Remember when we used to live in England and we saw those slides in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern? You thought that was pretty cool, right? Well, Carsten Höller, the artist responsible for those slides has a show, Divided Divided, at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. That’s the really neat museum in Rotterdam with the kinetic coat rack tree I told you about.

Here are a few reasons I think you will like this show:

1) You’re a scientist. Höller is also a scientist! He has a PhD in biology and lots of his artwork draws from this background.

2) The layout and contents of the exhibition are organized according to a fractal equation, in which each unit is repeatedly divided in half. Nerdy enough?

3) Also, room service.

We can sleep at the museum. Höller installed a (very slowly) rotating hotel room in one of the galleries, which you can rent for only €275-450 a night. You get a personal butler/tour guide, and can explore the museum all evening. There is a fully stocked mini-bar, and dinner and breakfast are included. Sounds AWESOME, right?

I think you’ll even like the art. A lot of Höller’s work is about perception. Since you study the neuroscience of vision, you can tell me all about how his “Flicker Films” play tricks on the eyes and explain why I feel disoriented after standing in Swinging Spiral, a “room” suspended from the ceiling.

We can find out whether the live canaries in his Calder-esque mobile sing in the dark and nibble on the Giant Triple Mushrooms when our tour guide isn’t looking.

Please, please take me to the museum. It will satisfy a fantasy I’ve had ever since I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 4th grade. You probably don’t get that reference, since you didn’t read American fiction in school. Perhaps Night at the Museum then? Not quite so cool, but you get the point.

Much love, and looking forward to a romantic and art-filled Valentine’s Day,


~Andrea Alessi, writer living in the Netherlands

(Images: Carsten Höller, overview exhibition Divided Divided; Revolving Hotel Room; Swinging Spiral {in background: Wall Divisions [Blue, Red, Yellow, White]}, 2010; Singing Canaries Mobile {in background: Divisions [Line, Point]}, 2009;Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen / photos: Attilio Maranzano)

Posted by Andrea Alessi on 2/14/10 | tags: installation

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