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“Revolving Hotelroom” by Carsten Höller

Revolving Hotelroom at Gugenheim NY

“Definitely pricey, but also the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone who says contemporary art puts them to sleep.” 1.
“Carsten Höller’s Revolving Hotelroom invites guests to stay over at the museum by sleeping in an art installation comprised of three turning glass discs mounted onto a fourth disc “that all turn harmoniously at a very slow speed.” 1.

Briefly after its premiere at the Gugenheim NY, UK-based newspaper The Guardian wrote the following on their website:

“Thanks to the artist Carsten Höller, you can get your own hotel room for two at the Guggenheim in New York this October (2008, ed.). Holler is installing a fully serviced hotel room – consisting of three revolving discs carrying a dressing area, desk and double bed – in the gallery as part of the show theanyspacewhatever, celebrating the work of 10 artists whose careers the Guggenheim has been central to. Holler’s work is fully equipped for overnight guests, who will have full access to the exhibition at night – but be on full view to the public during the day. Guests will also have to pay for the privilege – the museum is charging a fee through the website of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. For the show’s curator, Nancy Spector, the work is “a great example of how Carsten and each one of these artists is interested in engaging the viewer … in the very realisation of their artwork.” 2.

Revolving Hotelroom resembles Jenny Holzer’s Untitled by the way it becomes part of the museum, it is literally incorporated in the structure. Also both first appeared at the Gugenheim in Manhattan. Another connection can be made to Field of Interaction, because this work makes an entire room into an artwork, but an artwork that still fullfils its initial function as hallway. Just like Revolving Hotelroom is stil a functioning hotelroom.

Duchamp's "Fountaine"

Revolving Hotelroom‘s best resembling artwork though, is not featured in the Art and Electronic Media book. This is Marcel Duchamp’s Fountaine. It so much resembles Revolving Hotelroom because of the usage of context, in fact this is what makes these artworks to art. Both works are in it self objects of use (considering a hotelroom to be an object), by placing them in the context of a museum they become art. The difference here is that Revolving Hotelroom preserves its function, where Fountaine is rendered useless. Moreover, the museum not only influences Revolving Hotelroom, this influencing works in two ways. Because it exhibits Revolving Hotelroom the museum is tranformed into a hotel, at the same time retaining its primary function. The ontology of both museum and artwork are fundamentally changed by ech others influence, their very essence has become twofold.

Indeed, like many artworks this work seems to fall in between, like Higgins remarked in his 1965 writing Intermedia (AEM 196). But not in between media. As in these times the separation of the media of which Higgins spoke is not as evident anymore, aided by the rise of internet. No, Revolving Hotelroom falls between ontological function instead.

The video’s below both follow guests of Revolving Hotelroom at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where it featured as part of the Divided, Divided exhibition. The upper video is German spoken and was made for German television. The bottom one is in Dutch, made for the blog of Dutch newspaper NRC-Next.

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