Somagabel

Carsten Höller

Somagabel (Soma Fork) (2011)

Botany and zoology count among the main topics of the work of Carsten Höller. The German artist who was born 1961 in Brussels became famous in 1997 when he in collaboration with Rosemarie Trockel presented living pigs in a house at documenta X. Höller studied agronomics in Kiel and obtained his doctorate as well as habilitated on the subject of plant pathology. Even at this point of his career he used scientific test set-ups in order to create artistic works. Since then his often space-filling installations operate at the point of intersection of art and biology: In 2000 for instance he let monumental mushrooms grow upside down from a ceiling. In his work Höller questions positivism and objectivity of natural science and aims to show that the scientific foundations reset upon similar subjective modes of perception like art. For “Texte zur Kunst” Carsten Höller conceived “Somagabel (Soma Fork)”, a fork-like object which is related to his last solo show at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin entitled “Soma”. For this occasion, the artist created a double-blind study by dividing the historical hall of the museum in two symmetrical parts. A footbridge ran through the space while compounds to the left and the right housed several reindeer. Caged Mice, flies and canaries functioned as further protagonists of the setting. The initial point for this tableau vivant lay in the quest of the origin of Soma, a mythical drink of Indogermanic peoples which is said to have an ecstatic effect due to a substance found in fly agarics. The reindeer in Höller’s installation were fed with these mushrooms they also eat in the wild. The question if their behaviour was actually affected by their psychoactive food had to be answered by the visitors of the show themselves although the scene looked like a laboratory. The shafts of the forks of Höller’s edition for “Texte zur Kunst” consist of antlers which fell off after the mating season of the animals and therefore differ with each piece. As the hallucinogen could be stored in the horns of the deer the owner of the work can participate in the experiment as well as the research of the consciousness-expanding promise of Soma.

For "Texte zur Kunst" Carsten Höller has conceived a part of a cutlery made of antlers of reindeer entitled “Somagabel (Soma Fork)”, 2011. His edition is a fork-like object measuring approx. 2 x 2 x 20 cm each. They are signed and numbered on an enclosed certificate and come in an edition of 100 + 20 APs. They costs 450,- EUR plus shipping each.