Carsten Höller’s Slides

Posted by on February 1, 2012

My mom stayed home with us kids until I was in middle school and my brother was in grade school. An older mom gave her the advice that she should try to take a walk every day – rain or shine.  And we did.  The city park was only about four blocks away, it was a perfectly fine playground. Actually looking back, it was kind of a charming mix of cast off playground equipment all painted the same color, which made it sort of go together. However, there was no slide. I would lobby to go to the playground near the shopping center which had a slide. That playground was across two busy streets without crosswalks. My mom wasn’t about to walk there with a little kid and a baby in a stroller. As as kid I couldn’t see the problem, as an adult I can see that she was totally right.

Around that same time, she was a member of a women’s club. It was mainly a social club, but they did several charitable events throughout the year. My mom convinced the other members to raise money and donate a slide to the city park. That slide is still there (25! years later).  It is built into the side of the hill, so it is a lot longer than your average climb-a-ladder-and-slide-down type of slide. With a piece of waxed paper under your butt you could really fly down that thing. All the kids agreed, it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. This is a really bad photo, but you can see it in the background (there is new playground equipment in the foreground).

So, given my long-slide-loving past I am a big fan of Carsten Höller’s Slides.  I believe the largest instillation of slides was in the Tate Modern in London in 2006.

One of the coolest parts is that they are not at a consistent angle – in some places they are steeper and then they level out, or they start gently and then drop off.  With the plexiglass top you can see where you are within the building.  It looks fabulous, both as an experience and aesthetically.

He has done similar installations in several other museums.  This one (that kind of looks like a double helix) is in The Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia.

This one (for the São Paolo Biennial) breaks the walls of the building to shoot visitors outside for a moment.

Photo 1 personal, Photo 2 from the Tate website here, Photo 3 from wikipedia here, Photo 4 by David Sim from here, Photo 5 by Attilio Maranzano from here, photo 6 from wikipedia here, Photo 7 from here.

More about Carsten Höller here and here.

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