Psycho Tank, part of Carsten Höller’s “Experience” exhibit at the New Museum, just got a little less psycho. The instillation calls for up to six visitors to disrobe, shower, and float in a highly saline bath in order to provide a unique sensory-deprivation experience. Sounds fun! Unfortunately, the Post reports the Department of Health has warned the museum that Psycho Tank doesn’t have the prerequisite permits the city demands of bathhouses, and from now on only one person is allowed to enjoy the artwork at a time.
According to the Post, Psycho Tank participants sign a form that says they do not “have any communicable diseases or other adverse health conditions that could be transmitted by being in water with others.”
The New Museum describes the work thusly:
In Höller’s Psycho Tank (1999), visitors will float weightlessly in a sensory deprivation pool, providing a strange out-of-body experience. In these scenarios, as in his other work, Höller treats the viewer as the subject and audience for his radical and disorienting experiments.
The Department of Health’s John Kelly has a more oblique view on the “relational aesthetics” of Höller’s work:
The Health Department contacted administrators at the New Museum and advised them of the requirements in the Health Code and the conditions that would require approval and a permit.
Because of the DOH’s warnings, the New Museum has enforced a strict one-person-at-a-time rule for Psycho Tank. You can still get naked and have your senses deprived, but you gotta fly solo.
The Post reports the City is also looking at Höller’s other instillations, including a twisting 102-foot slide, to see if they are up to code. If they aren’t, our office will gladly take the slide off the museum’s hands.