The name Carsten Höller was unknown to me. Unlike Yayoi Kusama – whose art I find fascinating even though I can’t necessarily get a grip on it – Dr. Höller’s art is something I now feel I can understand and relate to. When I first heard about the 'Two Roaming Beds' experience, I knew nothing about the artist or what this experience would actually involve. However, the opportunity to spend a date night alone at a museum, roaming around in a robotic bed, appealed by virtue of its sheer craziness.
Free as a bird
On arrival, we are met by our Guide - Dr. Brochman - who assigned us our role as patients, and made us sign a waiver before encouraging us to swallow a blue pill – contents unknown. The dark 'No Decision Corridor' led us to the roof, where a security guard strapped us into what could have been straitjacket, but was in fact a flying suit. 'Two Flying Machines’ is meant to disorientate you while providing a seagull’s-eye view of the surroundings. Casting off all fear of flying, and swooping around at at tree level on a sunny day by the Oslo fjord, gave a remarkable sensation of freedom.
Down we go
The ‘Healing Slide’ whizzed us thrillingly down to earth, bang into a forest of ‘Giant Triple Mushrooms’. Various intriguing light installations fought for our attention, but the most disturbing was the ‘Pill Clock’, in which a blue and white pill plopped from the ceiling every three seconds. ‘Observing art is out, being part of the art is the new in,’ Dr. Brochman explained, and invited us to relinquish the urge to control every situation, to interact with the installations and chomp into yet another pill. With that, she wished us good night and handed us over to the maitre d’.
Elegant dinner with a view
In a private chamber with interior decoration dating back to the glory days of famous ice skater Sonia Henie, a large conference table is laid for two. We decide to sit one at each end, and practise passing the salt as if we are playing shuffleboard. Dinner is hosted by the playful restaurant franchise Bølgen & Moi, and while our two charming waiters excellently guide us through our meal, we enjoy the ever-changing palettes in the sky as the sun goes down.
Lysebu Hotel, yet another interesting stopover for art and nature lovers, has provided everything required for a healing getaway. We slip into bathrobes and nervously enter the ‘Giant Psycho Tank’ – a plastic bathhouse with salt water. Floating naked and weightless in lukewarm water, within the walls of a public space, is an experience that has to tried to be understood. There are other elements I won't reveal here, that add up to the weirdest art experience we’ve ever had. But the highlight was laying down for the night in robotic beds that roam around the space, drawing colourful scribbles in permanent marker on the floor.
We are woken early by a cawing crow, and hear the Congolese musicians in ‘The Flickering Films’ still playing and dancing in the room next door. We take another bath, grab another pill, expose ourselves to flickering neon lights and write a poem in the secret guestbook. As we leave the museum and return to the real world, we are convinced Dr. Höller would approve of our participatory art experience.
Oslo – a destination for modern art and architecture
For the duration of Carsten Höller’s exhibition, the Henie Onstad Art Centre by the Oslofjord has changed its name to Henie Onstad Sanatorium, understating this installation’s healing impact. The Two Roaming Beds exhibition is a transformational experience where scientist and artist Carsten Höller has created a mechanism for changing the way you relate to yourself and others. His presence strengthens Oslo’s and Norway’s position as a unique destination to experience the interaction between modern art, architecture and stunning natural landscapes. The exhibition is on until 10 September. A sleepover or a guided tour is truly out of the ordinary, and will resonate with you long after your physical visit.
Up for an extraordinary experience? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.