Carsten Höller's new slide opens at the Vitra campus
Vitra Slide Tower is “a sculpture you can travel inside” - though you can appreciate it even if you don't take a ride
Have you ever screamed with delight inside a design museum? You might not be able to help it if you take advantage of Vitra's new acquisition. The furniture brand's design-laden campus in Weil am Rhein, south-western Germany, has just opened a new visitor tower created by Carsten Höller.
The sleek, modern-looking structure is the latest addition to an unrivalled set of commissions by world-famous artists and architects. Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen created their Balancing Tools sculpture on the site in 1984; Frank Gehry completed Vitra's Design Museum in 1989; Tadao Ando contributed his Conference Pavilion in 1993; and Herzog & de Meuron made the Vitrahaus in 2010.
However, Höller's Vitra Slide Tower features – as the name suggests – one of the artist's well-known tubular slides. Gallery goers may have come across these at the Berlin Biennale in 1998, in the Tate Modern's Turbine hall in 2007, or in New York's New Museum in 2011.
Höller, a playful artist who enjoys breaking away from conventional aesthetic and cultural experiences, thinks slides are a fun way to explore a space. He describes this new tower, which opened last week, as “a sculptural work with a pragmatic aspect, a sculpture that you can travel inside.”
However, those unwilling to slip on a black sack and ride down Höller's tube can still appreciate his new creation. “Looking at the work from the outside is a different but equally valid experience, just as one might contemplate The Endless Column by Constantin Brancusi from 1938,” he says.
However, he also has some words for those willing to take a ride. Slides, Höller says, induce the kind of mental state that “was described in the fifties by the French writer Roger Caillois as 'a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.'"
Do try to remember this when you go hurtling down. For more, go here. And if you're curious as to why playground rides are considered valid artistic creations, try our book, Defining Contemporary Art.