Carsten Höller: Doubt (Milan) – Milan, Italy

2016 – Built

Delvendahl Martin Architects collaborated with the artist Carsten Höller to create a series of site-specific installations for his retrospective exhibition Doubt at the Pirelli HangarBiccoca in Milan.

Doubt unfolded along twinned, parallel paths that highlighted the potential which lies in the moment of decision making, it demanding sensory participation and perceptual focus from its viewer. it was up to the visitor to choose how they approached and experienced the exhibition, as they choose the path they wanted to take. The show opened up to the public with ‘Y’ (2003), which asked the user to walk through a structure with numerous flashing lightbulbs and choose between a green or yellow lit path, this decision is what shaped one’s ‘doubt’ and determined both the shape of the exhibition, and the visitors experience of it. As Carsten says, ‘you might have the feeling that you are missing out on something because there is always another possibility, or there is always another way to do it.’  

The exhibition also revisited the ‘Decision Corridors’ first seen at The Hayward, and on which we also collaborated: the ‘Decision Corridors’ are two mirror-image steel structures, set at different levels, which lead you along a dark, maze-like path, where you can potentially lose your sense of orientation and time. These completely dark passages generate different feelings, resulting in some visitors to turning on their cellphone lights to guide their way; this fear of not knowing where they’re going or what they will be facing, ultimately generates more doubt within them. 

Once the visitor exited the metal corridors, the vastness of the HangarBicocca opened up with a layout of alternating works that drew on optical experiments designed to trigger different states of mind, like joy, confusion and doubt, sensations that ultimately open the door to new ways of perceiving reality.