Carsten Holler Takes On Palazzo Strozzi For The Florence Experiment

Palazzo Strozzi will host The Florence Experiment, a new site-specific project devised by celebrated German artist Carsten Höller and plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, curated by Arturo Galansino, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi Director-General, this spring-summer.

Höller has worked as an entomologist before becoming an artist and held a PhD in psychopathology

The installation will connect internal and external spaces of the famed Renaissance palace, The Florence Experiment will comprise two experiences – monumental, intertwined slides will spiral visitors down a height of twenty metres, and a ‘live’ analysis of the impact of human emotion on plant growth. The project has been designed to further our understanding of ecology – not only as respect for nature but as the awareness of empathy between man and his botanical environment.

Visitors will be handed a plant to accompany them as they slide down from the second-floor terrace to the Palazzo Strozzi’s courtyard. To exit, the visitor will then pass into a laboratory where scientists will measure their plant’s photosynthetic parameters and volatile molecules, as triggered by the emotions experienced in the descending visitor, and picked up by their plant.

Carsten Höller Palazzo Strozzi Florence

Carsten Höller Palazzo Strozzi Florence

Located in the basement of Palazzo Strozzi, the laboratory will also house special cinema theatres, one screening scenes from famous comedies, the other excerpts from renowned horror films. The audiences’ contrasting reactions will produce different volatile chemical compounds, which will travel through a system of pipes and tubes to the façade of the Palazzo. Outside, the impact of these compounds and their effect on the growth of Wisteria plant vines arranged to climb up a series of wires in the form of ‘Y’s’, will become increasingly apparent over the summer months. The impact of the public’s fear or amusement is expected to visibly influence the direction in which the plants grow, thus creating a plant graph illustrating the interaction between human emotions and plant behaviour.

Höller has worked as an entomologist before becoming an artist and held a PhD in psychopathology. Expanding on his increasingly interactive practice, this unique project has been devised with Prof. Dr Stefano Mancuso, a founder of the study of plant neurobiology – which considers the complexity and intelligence of plants, with the capacity to communicate through the perception and emission of chemical compounds.

The Florence Experiment aims at creating a new awareness of the way in which we see, understand and interact with plant life, turning Palazzo Strozzi’s façade and courtyard into fully-fledged areas of scientific and artistic experimentation with regard, mirroring the Renaissance’s values of the alliance between art and science.

“With this project, so courageous and so special” comments Arturo Galansino, “Palazzo Strozzi will become a site of real contemporary experimentation and reflection, turning an architectural Renaissance masterpiece into a workshop of dialogue between art and science. Cooperation with Carsten Höller, one of the most important artists on the international scene, and with Stefano Mancuso, a Florentine scientist known worldwide for his work on plant neurobiology, offers us a spectacular opportunity to further Palazzo Strozzi’s calling as a multidisciplinary space seeking to find ever new routes to involve and interacting with our visitors”.

The project is promoted and organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi with the support of the Comune di Firenze, the Camera di Commercio di Firenze, the Associazione Partners Palazzo Strozzi and the Regione Toscana, and with a crucial contribution from the Fondazione CR Firenze.

From 19 April to 26 August 2018 Palazzo Strozzi will be hosting The Florence Experiment, a new site-specific project devised by celebrated German artist Carsten Höller and plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, and curated by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi Director Arturo Galansino, built around a fantastically innovative experiment studying the interaction between human beings and plants thanks to the installation of two monumental slides in the Renaissance courtyard and a special scientific laboratory connected to the façade of Palazzo Strozzi.

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