Berlin art exhibition “Soma” with live reindeer and canaries a success, AFP reports

Polnytt, 8. februar 2011

The unusual exhibition created by Carsten Hoeller contained living reindeer, mice and canaries, giant fly agaric mushroom sculptures, and was inspired by Hindu mysticism and Vedic writings, where a magical potion, a “food of the gods”, Soma, is mentioned. Scholars have looked at fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) for a possible natural explanation for the mythical Soma said to make people fly and “see the gods”.

Amanita Muscaria is considered poisonous, but has been eaten for food many places after parboiling. It contains the compound muscimol which is a hallucinogen. Siberian tribes reportedly drank the urine from reindeer that had eaten fly agaric mushrooms, and used the mushroom both for ritual and recreation.

On closing last sunday the exhibition had drawn close to 100, 000 visitors in the three months it was open. Visitors could even pay to camp in the installation overnight to fully immerse themselves in the experience.

AFP article here
Polnytt reposted article on the exhibition here
Carsten Hoeller website on the project here

Jonas Qvale/Hornorkesteret

Shaman with drum after Knud Leem (Wikipedia)

Ein samisk sjaman med runebomme (meavrresgárri). Illustrasjonane er stukne i koppar av O.H. von Lode i Firenze, etter eigenhendige «levende Tegninger» av Knud Leem sjølv, for hans Beskrivelse over Finnmarkens Lapper, deres Tungemaal, Levemaade og forrige Afgudsdyrkelse, (1767).
A Sami Shaman with a runebomme (frame drum). The illustrations are copper etchings by O. H. von Lode in Florence, from “live drawings” by Knud Leem himself, for his work The Lapplanders of Finnmark, their tongue, their way of life and their former false idol worship (1767).