During this year’s Art Basel Miami, Belgian artist Carsten Höller has designed a pop-up nightclub for Milan-based arts institution, Fondazione Prada. Called “The Prada Double Club Miami”, the installation in the form of a nightclub, for three nights (from 5 to 7 December, after 10.30 pm), it allowed guests to experience a particularly immersive and stimulating artistic event.
The previous “Double Club” in London, set up as a secluded “guerrilla” venue, was conceived as a living artwork to be as challenging and enjoyable. Consisting of three spaces—a bar, a restaurant and a disco—each one of them equally divided into Western and Congolese parts, the club provided the ground for the construction of an entirely new experience, generated by division. Both cultures were iconically represented by musical, culinary, and aesthetic details: the electric energy of Congo on one side, and recognizable elements of Western culture on the other.
In this new project, the artist further investigates the notion of two-sidedness: the audience is presented with two different spaces which offer visually and acoustically opposed experiences, with no concession to fusion. The vital and most important aim of “The Prada Double Club Miami” is to allow art to move outside its usual restrictive contexts— transforming it into a real-life experience. Conceived as a human experiment exploring the idea of duality in a playful environment, it creates an unsettling atmosphere from which a powerful, thought-provoking dialogue can emerge. The club is a physical embodiment of what an art installation can become: crowds are free to engage with the surrounding environment on multiple levels, all equally compelling and authentic, and become living components of a participatory experience.
Set in a 1920’s film studio complex, formerly an ice factory, the installation is divided into an internal club space and an outdoor tropical garden, one being entirely monochromatic, the other hyper-polychromatic. “I want guests to feel like they are the only element of color in the monochromatic side that has only greys, blacks and whites, as if a foreign element in a black and white movie – and to feel pale in the hyper-polychromatic other side, where the tropics hit a bit too hard,” explains Carsten Höller.
International live music acts and DJs are showcased in one space, whereas the other hosts a range of Caribbean and South American diasporas from Miami. Each performer embodies the oppositional concept behind the project itself: guests and clubbers can cross a permeable boundaries to venture into a double dimension and “schizophrenic” journey.