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Carsten Höller


Artist/PhD Phytopathology

Experience, perception, logic, fear, joy

  • Lives in Stockholm, Sweden and Biriwa, Ghana
  • 1961
Carsten Höller, Cinema of Joy, 2018, 6th Athens Biennale 2018 ANTI, photo by Nysos Vasilopoulos
Carsten Höller, Cinema of Fear, 2018, 6th Athens Biennale 2018 ANTI, photo by Nysos Vasilopoulos

Cinema of Joy / Cinema of Fear (2018)

Joy and fear are two of our most primal emotions, steering many of our thoughts and actions. Joy and fear are also prime emotions targeted and triggered by the entertainment industry. The traditional function of catharsis in theater and film was to purify the viewer of emotions like pity and fear, while comedies evoke hope and joy, feelings commonly pursued by humans. Politics strategically deploy and monger fear—fear of losing our privilege, jobs, and supposed safety. The targets of such emotions are often foreigners, women, the sexually non-conforming, or anyone deemed “different.” In his installation at AB6, Carsten Höller presents two identical single-channel video installations, one showing a compilation of scenes from horror films and the other one funny scenes from comedies. Evoking either joy or fear within the viewers, these compilations cause reactions that affect the human perspiration in different ways. The resulting scents, which are emitted by the audience in the process of watching, travel through the rooms and eventually meet and contaminate each other. As such, the ability to perceive the biological communicants transmitted by audience members viewing the scary scenes is confounded with those experiencing joy, and vice versa.


#cinema #joy #fear #comedy #smell #communication


photos: Nysos Vasilopoulos, 6th Athens Biennale 2018 ANTI

Cinema of Joy / Cinema of Fear, 2018
Cinema of Joy, video, 20′ 04″
Cinema of Fear, video, 34′
Courtesy of the artist