Artist Carsten Höller Debuts a Nine-Story-Tall Slide in Miami
He created a tandem slide that rises 93 feet in the air—his first slide artwork to be installed in the U.S.—and debuted it by sliding down with Chloë Sevigny.
By Elizabeth Fazzare. Photography by Leonel Diaz.
“I dissect fun in my work,” says artist Carsten Höller. In Miami this past weekend, Höller’s first work in United States made its debut. In permanent installation at the entrance of the Aventura Mall, a tandem slide now rises 93 feet in the air. With two spiraling titanium steel slides, one running clockwise and the other counterclockwise, Höller’s structure allows a pair of people to reach speeds up to 15 miles per hour on the way down. It’s a towering artwork that invites the public to interact with and activate it.
“Much of my work is conceptually a ‘double,'” comments Höller, who worked with firm Permuy Architecture to design and realize the project. “When two individuals ride down together, it is possible to see the other person at the same time, creating a peculiar moment of recognition and of self-alienation, leading to a form of madness in some way—being able to meet in the air with a friend.” The isometric work also creates the opportunity for disorienting views of a slanted clock tower, increasing the slider’s uncanny feeling. However, having sited the monumental work at a mall, Höller explores the space between art, play, and landmark in an unconventional space. Because a slide is a structure found traditionally at children’s playgrounds, its scale and location here transform its participants’ experience of a shopping center. “The idea is that this is a place for people to gather,” said Turnberry Associates CEO and Aventura Mall owner Jackie Soffer, who has seen both kids and adults enjoy speedy trips down the slide since its installation.
Well-known for his slide artworks, Höller has exhibited in museums across the world, including the Tate Modern and the Hayward Gallery in London, the New Museum in New York, and at the 28th São Paolo Biennial in Brazil. “I often wonder why architects and engineers do not integrate slides into building and city planning, as they are wonderfully efficient as well as exciting,” he says. “If we used slides in our daily lives, I personally think they would change how we perceive ourselves.”