IDEA arts+society, Cluj, issue, 32 2009 (http://idea.ro/revista/?q=en/node/41&articol=637); www.thisistomorrow.info, 2009 (http://www.thisistomorrow.info/viewArticle.aspx?);
It does what it says on the tin. It is a bar, a restaurant and a discotheque all in one, a space divided by an invisible line: the bar area is half Congolese, ornamented with plastic chairs and a barbeque, while in the disco space both Western and Congolese food is available and music is played. The dialogue between cultures continues with the artworks covering the walls; a self-portrait by Congolese artist Cheri Samba with a paintbrush in his teeth and Flying City, designed by Russian architect Georgi Krutikow in 1928. The mechanics behind the existence of this utopian city are left unquestioned.
Double Club plays a unifying role in Höller’s oeuvre, as it is identified as the driving engine behind a plethora of mediums, covering almost all forms of artistic representation. What becomes almost representative of Höller is the practice of creating a safe environment where danger is present, in order to channel different methods of perception. Double Club is presented as an art project which DOES NOT address more problematic issues raised by putting together Western European with Congolese traditions. Even though it is certain that any project addressing Congo is a strong elicitor of all kinds of projections, Carsten Höller advocates a light-hearten approach and sidesteps the issues raised by massacres, genocide and refugees: “I am proposing this model as a situation, where you think you have to decide between this and that, but you don’t!” Indeed, doubt is above all the main engine of Höller’s personal system of beliefs and artistic legacy. When he initiated a project he calls The Laboratory of Doubt (1999), Höller drove in to Antwerp in Belgium trying to spread doubt. With the help of a microphone and speakers on top of the car, he was faced with his own inability to deliver his objective. He then started asking individuals how to spread doubt, but no one could provide him with an answer, leaving him to find out how to do it alone.
By being an art project which requires a time frame, we shall never see whether this place for bringing different cultures together has the potency of developing organically into a reference venue, like the ones in Brixton, South London, for example, where the existence of the club/church, Mass, has proved the possibility of Afro-Caribbean and Western traditions to coexist through the bond of music. At the same time, by looking around the Double Club with the knowledge of Congo’s tragic history in mind, one might be inclined to think that the point cannot just be these good looking black bouncers, “wanna-dance“ tunes, the tin roof of the bar and the smell of barbequed kebabs.
One should take into consideration the double interpretation of Double Club at least for fear of making Höller play the saviour; one who takes himself seriously and has the power to import Congolese musicians to make their fellow countrymen proud of their tradition and restore their external image. He thus brings to attention the problem of Congo, mainly the unacknowledged holocaust and the ongoing colonialism. As Deleuze would say “there are not only right and wrong solutions to problems, there are also right and wrong problems”. In our case we are dealing with a false problem, which is not that of Congo having a bad image but that of inequality, exploitation and injustice on a massive scale. The project shows the opposition between those who are born into the culture, completely ruled of it and those who enjoy it. Höller can be self-critical of his role of successful contemporary artist who lives in an airplane and commissions his works from airports. He admits suffering with a kind of “hysterical production, where one is so busy with producing so much that he or she does not let doubts “come by”. Producing then becomes the cause and effect of having doubts, which is the only way to acquire clarity of thought.