|“I am not necessarily interested in intoxication as a status, but maybe as a way towards the other, the inaccessible, the being but unreachable.”||
Carsten Holler, SOMA, 2010. Installation view, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. Photo credit: David von Becker.
Courtesy of David von Becker.
Author: Carsten Höller
After the consumption of the fly agaric, the reindeer’s urine is collected and tested with the other animals to see if it makes any difference whether the reindeer’s urine contains SOMA or not.
SOMA is the legendary substance—or drink—or deity of the Veda, which they described in their written records in a highly ecstatic way around 3000 to 3500 BC. People always wondered what SOMA actually is, what its basic substance was. There are several different explanations as to what it could be, and the fly agaric is a very likely candidate.
The SOMA exhibition is a large picture, completely filling out the hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof. The picture you see, however, is not finished and it is obvious that some parts are still missing, which the viewer has to add by themself.
We are deliberately keeping the viewer in the dark about what exactly we are testing and on which side of the arrangement! So the viewer is actively taking part in the experiment, which is necessary to check if there is any difference between the two sides of the setup.
This difference can become observable watching the animals’ behavior: the reindeer, possibly having consumed fly agaric, or the other animals, whose food is mixed with the urine of reindeer, who may have consumed the fly agaric—or not. But we are keeping the secret of what is happening and where, the viewers not only have to discover it by themselves, but deduce it from the animals’ behavior.
I am not necessarily interested in intoxication as a status, but maybe as a way towards the other, the inaccessible, the being but unreachable. What I am interested in is the idea that there could be a completely different way of understanding the world and living inside of it. This all starts with the animals. When you are facing an animal you are unable to fully understand it, because it is living in its own world. The world of animals is a different one. Probably there are uncountable worlds between the animals. Obviously these worlds exist, but we don’t have access to them.
It is not so much about the drug, but about the idea of a different world and the attempt to get there. SOMA actually is the attempt to find this undiscovered world!