We Went to a Miami Mall to Watch Chloë Sevigny Go Down a Slide
by Carl Swanson
The launch of Carsten Höller’s newest installation was a nine-story thrill ride.
“I like to do dirty things,” said artist Carsten Höller by way of explaining his decision to erect one of his grown-up playground slides at the Aventura Mall outside Miami. Nine stories high, with twin corkscrewing descent tubes enabling two people to go at once at speeds up to 15 miles per hour, it towers over the mouth of an outdoor dining piazza at the edge of the mall’s swoopy new wing, with its Topshop and its Tesla showroom.
“It sounds really wrong. It’s a shopping mall,” he admitted when we met up in the swanky lobby of the Fontainebleau Hotel, which, like the mall, is owned by collector Jackie Soffer’s family real estate firm. “They’re very nice people, these art collectors, from what I’ve seen. But it’s still a dirty context. It’s contaminated.”
And this he likes. Holler trained as an entomologist before turning to art, and the Aventura Tower is his latest parascientific experiment on how fellow humans. Is it a sculpture? A tourist folly? A beacon of unscrupulous hope for South Florida personal-injury lawyers on the hunt for greedy clients? (There are 22 “Slide Operation Instructions” posted by the slide, the last being: “Please use the slide at your own risk.”) Any and all of those things at once, depending on how you look at it. Or maybe what it “is” doesn’t matter at all.
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