The opening of new installation ‘Oui’ by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec is a turning point for Aarhus Kunsthal.
by Roberta Rocca, photos by Giang Pham
The exhibition is somewhat unobtrusive in nature: four circular platforms now populate the outdoor space of the gallery. They emerge from earth and surround the trees, intended to be fully interactive pieces of art. Visitors can sit on them and enjoy peaceful intersections between the urban landscape, nature and art.
However, despite its being far from a majestic exhibition, the new installation has entirely altered the nature of the architectural landscape of the gallery. At first glance, the change might even go unnoticed. But it operates in depth in the relationship between visitors and space, thus opening up the possibility for new forms of experiences.
The nature and scope of such a change was already apparent in the opening party. Introduction speeches by French ambassador François Zimeray and the artists were surrounded by a joyful crowd of visitors exploring the potential of the renewed space. The event was lively, with children running around the Kunsthal park, flocks of passers-by converging to the event from the street, and art fanatics dwelling inside the gallery to visit the current exhibitions. All this conveyed the feeling of a dynamic, open space, where boundaries between indoor and outdoor, between the gallery and the city, were fading.
This dynamic, osmotic exchange between inside and out, and between contemplation and interaction, captures one of the main trends of contemporary art. It is in-line with a general tendency towards the democratisation of art experience, where the relationship between artworks (or art spaces) and the spectator is not meant to be filtered by a rich body of preliminary knowledge.
Art experience is a relationship between spectator and artwork, requiring no mediation but sensory. It takes place entirely in the act of experiencing an artwork; no additional infrastructure is needed. Experiencing an artwork in such a fluid context makes art closer to everyday experience, bringing back the aesthetic to a mundane dimension. Art becomes, so to speak, an enhanced version of the wide range of aesthetic experiences which are already there, transcendental in our everyday sensory and cultural life.
As mentioned repeatedly in the opening speeches, Aarhus Kunsthal has embraced this trend and turned its space into an explicit architectural claim: art can be, or has to be, public and democratic. The meaning of art in our society lies in these interstitial spaces and experiences between the everyday and the exceptional. Its sense relies on the fluid, dynamic relation between contemplation and use. Its rightful space emerges from breaking the rigid boundaries between private and public. ‘Oui’ and the resulting new Kunsthal are a tribute to this creed.
‘Oui’ will be on display at Aarhus Kunsthal until December 2019. You can find out more about the installation on the website.