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Who is Aros - who is Bill...
by Asbjorn Lonvig




Yesterday I visited Aros.
Who is Aros?
What is Aros?
An operating system to an Amiga computer?
The best of Scottish Music, Books, Culture and Heritage?
A golf club in
Västerås in Sweden?
An
Amsterdam based sextet playing rhythmically compelling blend of jazz, classical and new music ideas?
A Danish insurance company?
Or?
Yes, all of the above.
But.
Aros is also the ancient name of the capital of a peninsula called Jutland, which is a province of Denmark.
Today the city is called Aarhus.
And Aros is an art museum.
I live near by.
According to the chairman of the board, Neil Kzokoss, Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design, who visited me once, my house is located "in the middle of nowhere".

Well, your expectations to an art museum in the middle of nowhere in a province of Denmark might not be high.
However, stay tuned.


And when you look at this art museum from outside it is nothing but a huge cube.
A huge box.
A huge brick.

Ok, there are a few architectural goodies when you look closer.
A ramp from the street to the lounge.
A lift in a tube.
Huge windows.
And according to well informed sources there is some
very expensive
but unfortunately invisible masonry.

But.



At the moment you enter the lounge, your breath is taken away.
Where am I?
I'm totally confused.
Suddenly I am indeed not in the middle of nowhere.
I'm in New York.
And the architect is renowned Frank Lloyd Wright.
I'm at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street in New York.
1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street in New York is of course
 the address of Guggenheim Museum.

Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece on Fifth Avenue was built in 1959.
Amazing how Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture is contemporary.
In Chicago I saw several of his houses that looked as if they were built yesterday.
One was from 1909.
Frank Lloyd Wright had a rare gift, sure.
Divinity?
If you did not know that Frank Lloyd Wright had passed away
and if you did not know that the architects of Aros were Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer og John Lassen
you surely had any reason to assume that Aros was a Frank Lloyd Wright creation.



In my memory, Guggenheim Museum New York is white. And the sky above is blue, blue, blue.
That's how I remember it from my visits there.
But I saw a picture of the museum recently.
It was sadly yellowish and the sky
above was smoggy.
 
To the left: "blue sky" by Asbjorn Lonvig
Acrylic on canvas
79.2 x 54.8 inches
US$ 12,000
Edition 5
advertisement 


Who is Bill?
 
Bill is not the most successful police drama on British television.
Bill is not he who is known from Microsoft with the sirname Gates.
Bill is not
Bill of Rights. Amendment I.
Bill is not the former president of the United States.


Bill is Bill Viola.
Bill is a video artist.
Bill was born in New York.
He studied at the College of Visual and Performing Arts of Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, graduating with a B.F.A.
After that he worked with various projects.
For example he worked with an avant-garde music group.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Bill a Visual Artist Fellowship for his work in video. He received a Video Artist Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation presented Bill with a video stipend........And his biography goes on like this.........of course he has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Guggenheim Museum in New York, Berlin and Bilbao have shown his works.

This world artist exhibits at Aros.
The exhibition is called Bill Viola's Visions and it takes place right now at
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in collaboration with Guggenheim Bilbao,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York and Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin
.

On beforehand I read this in the catalog (....which actually is a book):

The five pieces comprising Bill Violas Visions strike
up certain fundamental themes that characterize
Viola's art, such as his fascination with birth, life,
death an rebirth. Inspired particularly by Buddhism's
concept of reincarnation, Viola treats existence as
a cycle where the human being is born, lives, dies,
and is born anew..........................................................
The next sentence I did not quit understand
but it might be explained here.....................................
Bill Viola generates visions. He does so with visually
intense images, that wager our physically concrete
reality with an underlying metaphysical world..........

Or in short deep Bill.

I was ready to see deep Bill's art.
I too had seen an interview with a curator from Aros
in TV, she was fascinated by the technical aspects
of Bill's exhibition: Huge screens, high stereo sounds etc.

1. - Crossing

I entered the room.
No light at all.
With a screen in the middle of the room.
A screen that  was not as huge as I was told
in TV.
I forgot everything about  technical aspects  as
a man began walking in slow motion far away.
Slow, slow motion.
I just stirred - totally forgetting how long the man's
crossing lasted.
As the man came close he stood still.
A tiny flame appeared.
It grew and grew and grew.
High sounds of thundering fire.  
The man burns.
To ashes.
Silence.
Nothing left.







2. - Going Forth by Day

Five huge projections in one room each showing a video film.
Stereo sounds from the 5 video films.
Watching 5
deep Bill video films in one time was a tremendous challenge.


The deluge.
At the wall facing you as you enter the room.
The images are shown on the wall, like e fresco.
A door and 4 windows.
A beggar.
Furniture are being removed from the hose.
Pedestrians walk faster and faster.
Noise from the street.
Panic. People hurry out of the door. Some do not manage to get out before cascades of water catch
them and rush them out on the street, dead. Cascades of water from the windows.
High sounds of  water.

 

The voyage.
A dollhouse like house at the top of a hill. A dying man is in a bed. Two relatives are mourning. A watch sits outside.
Removers and a bargeman are loading a barge.
The barge is at the lake shore.
The lake is calm. No wind. It seams artificial.
The two relative leave the dollhouse. The watch leaves the hose. The relatives return back to the hose. The door is locked. The man in the hose has died.
Two elderly people say good by to each other on the lake shore. And they both enters the barge and sail across the lake.



First light.
Rocks and a pond.
Exhausted rescuers load an ambulance with stuff.
The ambulance leaves.
(I have forgotten the chronology)
It rains cats and dogs.
A woman is offered a blanket.
Three men and a woman go to sleep.
A woman comes out of the pond and flies into the sky.




The path.
People are passing by. In slow motion, all of them in the same direction. Going to or coming from a picnic.
Bringing things.
This goes on and on. The image is huge, it is on the long side of the room, from one end to another.


Fire Birth
The 5th projection was on fire every time I looked.
Contours of a figure emerged now and then.
A baby?
But only to fade away.


By the way - Bill was inspired by the renaissance master Luca Signorelli's Judgment Day frescoes
in Ovate in Italy. Giotto's has been of great inspiration to Bill, too.  Giotto's greatest masterpiece is a giant 3-dimentional image, which you phisically enter like
Going Forth by Day.
Going Forth by Day lasted for half an hour. 
Afterwards I had a feeling that I had to watch every single video film for half an hour,
but sure that's not Bill Viola's intention.
One half hour, period.
I had to take break.
Why?
It was too much.
Of what?
Can't say.
Alertness  maybe.
Emotional bombardment probably.
I went to the nice Italian like Art Café
and had a salad and two bread, a mineral water and a cup of coffee.


3. - Surrender

A single screen work.
A man in red.
His face is distorted with pain.
A woman in blue.
Her face is distorted with pain.
The man and the woman are
reflected in the surface of a pool of water.
Now and then they bend forward and plunge.
The water runs off their faces.
Tears?
Their expressions become more and more painful.
And.
They dissolve.











4. - The Messenger

More water.
A naked man in the water.
He is submerged in water.

He comes to the surface.
Again.
And again.
And again.
Bill has told us about a boyhood incident in which he nearly drowned.
Bill recalls the episode as a peace filled, poetic experience.
To suggest itself as a metaphor for human existence?
Messenger?
The man assumes the role of a messenger between the concrete reality and a reality beyond?


5. - Five Angels for the Millennium


Aros’s own installation.
5 projections. 
Water, water, water, water and water.
Things, humans descend and ascend.
I can't say so much about these 5 works.
Mentally closed down.
No more emotional bombardment for this day.
Some other day maybe.

After Exhibition

I was tired.
Totally exhausted from concentration
and impressions.
I went to to the information desk and introduced myself:
I have an appointment  - I want to talk to the Communication Manager.
We had a cup of coffee in the Italian like Art Café.
We talked about Bill's exhibition.
About Bill's exhibition being exhausting.
We talked about Aros.
About Aros being a wonderful place.

People call it Aros.
I call it "Little Guggenheim".



Boy

Before I finish this story about Aros and Bill, I want to
show you something you will not see anywhere else.
It's the Aros Aarhus Kunstmuseum landmark
"boy" by
Ron Mueck
Height: 5 meters, that's 16.4 feet








photos by Poul Ib Henriksen and ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in collaboration with Guggenheim Bilbao, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York and Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin





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Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist
Art News Artblog: Who is Aros - who is Bill......Little Guggenheim - Viola Video artist

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