Hallucinogenic Reindeer Moments

Natalie Dixon
February 1st 2011

Can art change perceptions more than drugs? An art project which was on show in Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof allowed 12 free-roaming reindeer in the former railway station creating a seemingly bucolic Northern European scene. Except, half of the reindeer had been reportedly fed fly agaric mushrooms which turned their urine hallucinogenic. Add a few mice, flies and canaries and then feed them food sprinkled with this special urine and the scene turns interesting. Add a bed (and mini bar) for curious art fans  at € 1000 and access to the bottled urine for consumption and the scene turns bizarre (or as bizarre as your imagination allows). The work, by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, titled Soma has been labeled a science experiment meets art meets let-your-mind-run-free project.

Soma was seen at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.
Photo credit: David von Becker

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1 comment

Posted 01/03/2011 – 22:18

Funny article.
But you might want to read the original article/interview. If you had, you would have noticed that it was a "hypothetical" experiment. Apparently they never said that they really fed the mushrooms to the reindeer and never said they really drank the urine.
In an interview they stated: maybe yes, maybe no. It's about imagination. It's about that we could have.
The reindeer were not free-roaming - neither were the mice or canaries: they were kept in cages. The 1000 € were not paid to drink urine, but to get an exclusive over-night tour. Also people did not sleep in the bed seen in the picture, but in an exclusive hotel room that was built for this exhibition. Also the "Hamburger Bahnhof" is a museum of modern art - not a railway station.
The installation is not about drugs, but about a religious ritual of Indogermanic tribes, mentioned in early Hinduistic hymns.
If you ask me, you have fallen for a marketing trick. ;)
Even though your interpretation is fun to read.

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