Here is the epitome of post-Enlightenment, post-Modernist European nihilism. An artist, Carsten Holler,—trained a research entemologist—used to make avante garde art projects that fantasize about murdering children to creating whimsical installations. But don’t get the wrong idea. Children are still an abstraction divorced from real love or anything apart from the self.
He came to fame in 1990-93 with an exhibition of devices for catching and killing children; one, for instance, was a swing fixed to the roof edge of a high-rise building. Was he really such a paedophobe? ‘Well, now I have a daughter I’ve changed my mind! I never hated children, but I hated the idea of making children, the whole reproductive process. There’s no freedom if you cannot get rid of the biological machinery that makes us decide to do this thing and not that thing. I thought very much about how you could break that chain. I was determined and convinced that I would not have children.’
So what happened: did he fall in love? ‘I fell in love all the time! Very much so, even more, because I would not have children. But I think once you have really explored a certain conviction, it is time to give it up. I don’t think you should go on holding it for the rest of your life. So I thought it was time to have a child, to see if I was right or wrong. And I found I was both right and wrong.’
To paraphrase Mark Shea, show me a culture that despises chastity and virginity and I will show you a culture that despises children. Any normal, sane society would denounce the man as a sicko and ostracize him. But this one lionizes him and calls him a great artist.
Michelangelo was a great artist. Holler is a hack who uses shock to gain attention.
Holler’s deathswing; exploding bicycle; and his slide exhibit at the Tate Museum in London.