Saturday, August 20, 2011

moif's bad Danish art rant

Most of the time, I ignore other Danish people's ideas regarding what constitutes good art, because if I didn't, I would almost certainly consume myself in an ungovernable rage. Sometimes however, usually when some eager politician or an individual-with-no-taste-and-too-much-money gets a bright idea with regards to 'smartening up' Aarhus, I am provoked to indignation. A decade or so ago some powerful members of Copenhagen's cultural elite did one of their own a favour and unloaded a pile of junk known as the 'Water Dragon' onto us. This leaking pile of expensive scrap metal (known to locals as 'the urinal') now dominates our central plaza and does a brilliant job of making us look even more provisional than we already do. At the time, public opinion was largely opposed to the sculpture with most locals (or at least those who had any opinion) preferring something by a local artist, of which there were several candidates. This opposition from the common herd made no impact on the cultural elite of Copenhagen.

Recently, Aros (an amazingly expensive art museum erected in the centre of the city around the same time as the 'Water Dragon' was being foisted upon us) forked out another vast quantity of money on a 'work of art' designed to bring international attention to Aarhus. In the image above you can see how Aros, the big brick cube looming behind the houses, manages to convey a subtle sense of the sublime... by looking like a big brick cube. Stuck on top, and looking like a misplaced multi-coloured halo, is the 'stunning work of art' designed to inspire foreign awe and exclamations of admiration. The big idea is, you walk around inside it and look at the view through the various shades of horribly expensive glass.

Now, Aarhus faces its latest artistic challenge in the shape of a 72 m tall abstract statue by the late Robert Jacobsen (an artist whose work has no relevance to modern Denmark what so ever and whose legacy is tediously guarded by his own, diminishing generation). Weighing in at 1,800 tons this monstrosity, named 'Big Robert' is almost as big as the statue of Liberty. No one seems to want it, indeed several other cities have already turned the horrible thing down, but if things go the way they usually do, this 'important work of art' will probably be dumped in Aarhus by the cultural elite in Copenhagen so that they can have a good laugh at our expensive.

I would like to take the time to publicly announce that in my opinion, the 'Water Dragon', Aros's technicolour crown, and 'Big Robert' are all perfect examples of the sort of bad art only large amounts of money in the hands of morons can buy. If I had the means, I would wage a clandestine campaign to erase these objects from existence and replace them with beautiful, imaginative works of art, probably something figurative, probably something which reflected the culture of Denmark and not the tedious thought processes of mediocre artists whose only recourse of expression is the abstract.


Misteline Magnifico said...

I agree, though something decent from a non-local artist would be acceptable to me.
Might I suggest giant horse genitalia?
Actually, the big gantries in Ã…rhus docks have a certain merit, and I've even seen some odd wind turbine 'camouflage' in Germany that was sufficiently different to have a limited appeal.

I've seen some pleasant sculptures in Denmark, but generally rather older.

As to the Aros thing; when I first saw it, I genuinely assumed that the colouring was a temporary project by the pupils of a local school, or something similar.

Cyan said...

I feel for you. Look at what we got saddled with in Denver. Bluecifer the big satanic bronco. This thing is 32 feet tall, weighs in at 9000 pounds, and comes with glowing eyes of death. It cost the city $650,000, and the torso actually killed the artist before the piece was finished.

It's the first thing people see when they get to our amazingly hideous airport, another expensive and bad design.

moif said...


I laughed so loud when I followed your link, that Freja came to see why. When I pointed to the picture she said; "Is it a nice smiling dog?"

She quite likes it, but I think you beat me hands down. Our urban art is bad, but that monstrosity is just embarressing on a whole new level.

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

Hear- hear, and the irony is that most people of Aarhus are AGAINST those works of ... junk.

I was at Aros with my class Wednesday. It is magnificently unnotable. In fact it is so bad one of the students collapsed with a seizure of Angst...

Personally I believe the Rainbow Thingie is Iceland's new attempt at hustling us for money and get their economy back on its feet.

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

Ha ha ha Cyan, looks like a giant and very tacky toy. Poor you.

brando said...

Hi Moif, I've been out of contact with you for a looong time, but I might have something to add. I know pretty much nothing about art, so my opinions are pretty much worthless on the topic.

First off, I hope that your tribe is happy and healthy. You're pretty much the best there is.

Second, I've seen the Blue Bronco, a number of times, and I actually sort of like it. It's not my city though.

And thirdly, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa we have a wannabe cosmopolitan struggle. Regionally we're a city, but we're sort of just a big town, that's really clickish. If you count the area, we're maybe 150K.

Our art is known as the Toilet Brush.

moif said...

Hi again Brando.

Yes, that is a rather unfortunate sculture.

Good to hear from you again.