Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Aarhus City. Down by the Docks. ARoS Triennial The Garden The Future?
A woman gone mad? Smashing up a work of art?!


Having already seen ARoS Triennal exhibition The Garden The Past (at the museum) and The Garden The Future (outdoor by the beach), I thought it could be interesting seeing some of The Garden The Present (various places in Aarhus C), but got back to the future:

A small note on the ARoS website tells you that it is possible to see a work of art by famous artist Doug Aitken:

The Garden. A living piece of art. A misty, humid garden around a clinical white domestic chamber; an anger room?

The audience is invited to visit at select times and let some steam out, energy release, by smashing up furniture, glass and porcelain?

When we think of art, we usually think of the object and the viewer. I wanted to create an artwork that’s an activator – a piece with friction and energy.
Doug Aitken..

I am not crazy about smashing things up, but this is art and the concept of audience involvement sounds interesting.
..
On the website you are told, that you can reserve a spot for 15 minutes. There was some more text, but I did not read it closely or think about it much, until later, when I stood at the door: Live-streaming from the event 24-7 and all activity will be shown live a.o. at http://www.aros.dk and www.arostriennial.dk” …


The event is today. I drive into the grey, industrial site, bleak area down by the docks. Immediately I step out of the car, I am greeted by a man: “Is it you, who have booked? Because the person before you did not show.”

I answer affirmatively, but do not quite understand his urgent tone of voice. He walks with me all the way through the entrance corridor and to the work of art. Very kind, thank you very much, I am thinking. Around us other people are walking towards the ‘exhibit hall’.
… 

Then he says: “Step over here. You need to wear this.” He hands me a white protective suit. White shoe covers. White gloves. A hard hat (blue, though). Clear plastic protective goggles. Ear protectors. And a white baseball bat!

My heart is sinking. Real low.

And even lower, when I see, that now there is a small crowd of spectators gathering.
And I realize, that I am the one they are going to ogle in a minute …

Curiosity killed the cat! Stupid me for signing up for this endeavor
… 

To understand my sudden second thoughts:
… 
#1 I am shy (maybe strange with a job as speaker and trainer)
# 2 I am an anti-aggressive person (I will not be able to deliver real entertainment)
# 3 I dislike destruction of any kind – in real life and on film (apart from in car chases)
# 4 I like things neat, tidy and orderly (a little like the ‘before picture’ seen here)
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I swallow hard and follow timidly behind the project coordinator as he leads the way to the glass box door. His final words: “You have 10 minutes. Then the lights will be dimmed.
You can smash away. You may not throw things around. You may not break the glass.”
I step inside. He closes the door behind me.
I try not to look at ‘the eye in the sky’ or the spectators getting their cameras out.

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I walk around in the harshly lit glass box emulating a living and dining room. I continue to walk around for quite a while with the bat in my hand patting the other hand with a gesture I remember from crime films. What to do? What to do? What to do?
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Passing by ‘the window’ I notice, that someone has already broken the glass …
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… 
The onlookers present and “all over the World” as the project coordinator put it must be disappointed surely. I need to act. I stop before a bookshelf. Take a deep breath.
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I raise the bat and start smashing it down on the lamp and bookshelf. Hit, hit, hit …
… 
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… 
Maybe I can get a job as sturdiness-tester at IKEA? It takes considerably less time to tear this thing apart, than trying to get such bits and pieces out of a box and assemble them.
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After just a few hits, the bat breaks! In two halves. I am surprised, confused. Now what?
I get creative, pick up a bookshelf part and smash up the broken bits a bit more …
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Well, well, that’s one down! If all else fails, maybe I can get a job as a wrecking ball.
… 
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 …
 But I miss the bat! I pick up the heavy end and place the handle on the table. At it again.
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… 
This will stop you from squeaking ever again!
… 
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Doing a little demolition dance. Point of impact. Boom!

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… 
Poor, poor defenseless furniture. But it is too late to turn back now.
… 
  
 …
One bookshelf, a couple of lamps, two small tables eliminated. Table and chairs to go.
 …
I ‘pat’ on the table, hard as steel, no luck there. The chairs seem “easy”, though.
I am beginning to think of the scenario as a CrossFit workout and put some energy into it.
In my protective suit and hard hat I am sweating like a … constant gardener.
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.. 

Arrrggghhh. Just as I have warmed up, the lights are dimmed (signalling it is time), before I have ‘energized’ the table. Well, that is life. In The Garden.
… 
That was that.
A shattering experience.

Doug Aitken is an American artist and filmmaker. “Defying definitions of genre, he explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vienna Secession, the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris”.


ARoS is a Danish art museum situated in Aarhus, Denmark. Exciting museum with a fine selection of traditional and modern art and various changing exhibitions.

2 Comments »

  1. Sorry! For me watching destruction like this is not art or even a form of exercise. It is the opposite of “creative” with nothing positive about it. I hope no one is paying money for this!

    Like

    • Thank you for commenting! Yes, I was ambivalent as well, I appreciate the artist’s view and like the energy and involvement idea, but still do not like destruction. But luckily it is absolutely FREE for participants and viewers 😉
      Happy weekend 🙂
      Note: Hammering away – banging sledgehammers on truck tires – has become a very popular CrossFit exercise!

      Like

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