Two New Museum Visitors Claim Carsten Höller Floating Tank Gave Them Ear Infections

12/12/2011 3:21 PM |

Proposal for new ear protection.
  • Proposal for new ear protection.

After some early hurdles it seemed that, excruciatingly long lines and increased admission notwithstanding, everything was A-OK at the New Museum‘s Carsten Höller show, Experience (through January 15). But on Friday a pair of displeased visitors claimed that they’d contracted ear infections after taking dips in the “Giant Psycho Tank” (1999).

Said sensory-deprivation pool, which originally admitted two floaters at a time but was downgraded to a one-person ride by the Department of Health, was visited by the couple in question on November 27th. In an email to Gothamist, one of them explains:

My boyfriend and I waited in line for three hours to float in the sensory deprivation tank… Which means that I would float around naked in a tank that many museum visitors had already been in that day. I recognize some risks here, but the water was heavily chemically treated, and the NY Health Department had already cracked down on them for some issues, so I figured, how much more dangerous could this be than a typical pool?

Well, at least marginally more dangerous. Two days later, we both had very painful ear infections in both ears. I had never had an ear infection in my life! After 8 days of antibiotics, our ear infections are STILL not gone. I tried to post this information on their Tumblr, but surprise, surprise, the moderator has not yet approved my post.

One of the items on the waiver that visitors intending to take part in the exhibition’s interactive components have to sign is that they don’t suffer from any contagious diseases or infections so, more likely than not, if the ear infections were in fact contracted from the floating tank, the NuMu is most likely legally in the clear. They may want to provide earmuffs for future floaters, though, such as those in the image above.

(GalleristNY; Photo: Benoit Pailley, Courtesy the artist, the New Museum)