Soma? So-meh.

by James Glazebrook

Soma, the Carsten Höller installation at contemporary art centre Hamburger Bahnhof, is currently Berlin’s hot ticket. Occupying a unique middle ground between art event and Yuletide petting zoo, Soma has something for all ages: reindeer for the kids and hallucinogens for the grown-ups (both frustratingly just out of reach). What it doesn’t have – like much of the post-sixties work on display in the rest of the gallery – is a solid narrative. If you want to find out what Höller’s “scientific experiment” is meant to explore (good luck!), The Guardian recently ran a great review – but what visitors to the exhibition actually walk away with is the tang of deer piss in their nostrils and, in the noggin, a confusing confluence of canary scales, mushroom clocks, mice boxes, and the suspicion that in reality none of these animals are high on their own supply (of urine). Still, Hamburger Bahnhof is well worth a visit, if only to marvel at the stunning architecture of this converted railway station or the occasional flashes of genius (Dan Flavin etc.) in the permanent collection – and Soma made for great photos at least!