ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

  • Sarah Surgey
  • 13th October 2015
  • Whilst exploring the Nordic countries you can’t ignore the amount of Art and Cultural events and premises which indulge visitors in some of the most innovative and exciting art.

    Denmark is no acception and in its second largest city, Aarhus, you will find  ARoS Aarhus Art Museum.

    ARoS is a house of art where guests can be pleased, enlightened and challenged. The architecture is of international class. The same is the art. And both offer experiences of high carat: from light to thrill, from attitude to entertainment, from joy to challenge.




    The art museum contains four large exhibition galleries of just under 1,100 square metres and The West Gallery with its 350 square metres.  Each gallery shows special exhibitions with both national and international artist such as Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson, Wim Wenders, Paul McCarthy, Shirin Neshat and Robert Rauschenberg. Besides the special exhibitions the galleries give the opportunity to view works from the museum’s own collections featuring work dated from 1770 until today including contemporary works by international artists such as Tony Oursler, Carsten Höller, Mona Hatoum, Miwa Yanagi and James Turrell.

    In addition international light-, video- and installation art are presented in the special exhibitions section “The 9 Rooms” in the basement.



    On the 7th March 2015, ARoS opened its doors to a new exhibition series in the West Gallery: ARoS FOCUS//NEW NORDIC. The series is directly focused on Nordic contemporary art and will be running for a period of three years. A total of nine young Nordic artists will be presented.

    ‘We want to present the kind of art to our museum visitors that they won’t normally have access to. Art by interesting international artists. Art that is largely unknown, but relevant, appealing and to the point. ARoS FOCUS//NEW NORDIC is an interesting option intended to meet the ever rising expectations of our visitors and expanding their horizons even further,’ says Erlend Høyersten, museum director, ARoS.



    Taking their point of departure in especially the visual artist Nathalie Djurberg’s (1978) personal fantasies and notions, the artist couple attempt to visualise the often less flattering aspects of the human psyche. This they achieve via integrated installations consisting of large modelled sculptures, video animations and atmospheric music. Nathalie Djurberg and the composer Hans Berg (1978) provide a space in their works for frustration, fear, desire, violence and imagination in a very private and symbolic manner coinciding with a specialzeitgeist characterised by a strong focus on the individual and on identity.

    Exhibition manager for ARoS FOCUS//NEW NORDIC: acting senior curator Lise Pennington.



    The 9 Spaces

    The 9 Spaces is a designated exhibition space at the subterranean basement level of ARoSAarhus Kunstmuseum, reserved to and specially designed for international light art, video art and installations. For the most part, new acquisitions has been funded from the Carlsberg Foundation’s donation to ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum of DKK 40m over a ten year period.

    The following works are currently installed in The 9 Spaces:



    Unk, 2004

    A solid glass tank measuring 2 x 2 x 2 metres filled with water is the setting for a large human head, cast in glass fibre, onto which a face is projected. The darkened space that surrounds the tank adds to the eerie atmosphere. The work is thus a further development of Tony Oursler’s (b. 1957) previous productions where he brings dolls to life by means of projected video images.



    Milkrun III, 2002

    James Turrell’s (b. 1943) light work is contrived by artificial light. The viewer confronts a smouldering red light field which is fractured by a blue and yellow light that slit-formingly cuts into it, thus introducing tridimensionality into a diffuse opal-hued light. Instead of a spectacular effect, this shimmering field of colour produces a sense of thoughtful, reticent drama.


    Dawn Hours in the Neighbour’s House, 2007

    Swiss Pipilotti Rist (b. 1962) has created an installation especially for The 9 Spaces where the guest in just 8 minutes can experience 24-hours. Her unique video/sound installation is staging one of daily life’s banal, yet magic moments: the dawn of light. Rist has established a living room with furniture, wall paper, windows and plants. Video, sound and light create different atmospheres in the dawn of light. She seems preoccupied with the seemingly ordinary, well known aspects of life. But there is a twist. There is something strange and unfamiliar about the house –underlined by the fact that the artist has created a home in something as unnatural and alien as the space of a museum.



    Surroundings, 2007

    The Danish-Islandic Olafur Eliasson born 1967 is a well established, modern artist. Eliasson has earned his fame making large scale artworks that combine natural science with art. In The 9 Spaces at ARoS Eliasson combines these two elements yet again with great effect inSurroundings. By confronting the viewer with different physical experiments he challenges the sense of sight and makes our eyes see something which is not there. Eliasson thereby seek to create a disorientation in how we interact with the world and how we create the idea of ourselves by interacting with the things that surrounds us.


    Tom Na H-lu,2006

    Mariko Mori’s work is in elegant and fitting manner combining spirituality and cyber technology. Tom Na H-lu was the name given by the ancient Celts to the place where the human soul took up abode before being reborn. To the Celts, Tom Na H-lu was in the shape of a tall monolith. Mori has recreated this monolith in matt glass. The glass sculpture contains a computer-controlled LED light source, which changes colour whenever a star dies and when the celestial bodies known as neutrinos, which are elementary particles created by a fusion between sun and star, move in space. Via the internet, this work is linked to a supercomputer in the Super Kamiokande Observatory in Tokyo University.



    In our initial encounter with the Olaf Breuning’s (b. 1970), work we see a video projected on to a white sheet. However, the white sheet turns out to be the reverse of an E.T. figure the size of a child, the likeable little space creature from Steven Spielberg’s film from 1982. The main figure and narrator in the video is that of Brian Kersetter, a young man who in the course of a video lasting seven minutes takes us along with him to various geographical locations with widely different stories to tell – from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas through the Wild West to Amish Pennsylvania in the USA. The video makes great use of echoes from the commercial film industry, including both films and advertisements. We are repeatedly told in the video how bored the narrator is, and how this boredom seems to provide the stimulus for the succeeding actions.



    A New Dynasty – Created in China

    A Chinese view on China and a new monumental installation created for ARoS by the legendary artist and system critic Ai Weiwei. These are some of the things awaiting the visitor when ARoS opens its doors on 21 November 2015 to the exhibition A New Dynasty – Created in China.

    ARoS has hand-picked 25 Chinese contemporary artists for the exhibition A New Dynasty – Created in China who will be showing a colourful array of paintings, installation art, video, sculpture, and photography. The exhibition breaks with Western cliché-ridden ideas of China as a Made in China culture by presenting the participating Chinese artists’ view on China. Weighty subjects such as Chinese national feeling and freedom of expression run as undercurrents through the spectacular works of art.

    ’With A New Dynasty – Created in China, ARoS wishes to combine the external gaze on China with the internal. We want to present Chinese contemporary art that does not exclusively look for inspiration within a Western frame of reference, but also in its own history, including early dynasties and China’s actual social and political context’, says museum director and curator of the exhibition Erlend G. Høyersten, ARoS.

    ‘China is facing a time of upheaval. The country is an elite economic and cultural superpower whose structural changes take place at a dizzying speed. China’s development means a lot more to our lives in the West than we care to admit. China’s future is our future, and this is why the exhibition is relevant’, adds Erlend G. Høyersten.


    Sui Jianguo, Motion And Tention, 2009 Mobile Studio , 2012, Photo Installation. Photo: ARoS



    A New Dynasty – Created in China is a visual, thought-provoking, and inspiring encounter with China as a present-day superpower. The works of art will give visitors unique keys to the understanding of a world which is both familiar and strange at the same time; the complex and multi-faceted phenomenon of China.

    With this exhibition, ARoS focuses on the artists’ work methods and unusual approaches to Chinese reality, accentuating the political and social discord characterising China: the social elite contra the masses and the Communist ideology contra the fast growing market economy this country is experiencing.


    ARoS is particularly proud to be able to present Ai Weiwei at this exhibition. He just had his passport returned from the Chinese authorities and is now, for the first time in four years, free to travel. Quite exceptionally, Ai Weiwei has consented to participate in the group exhibition and he will create a new monumental installation for A New Dynasty – Created in China.

    ‘The fact that a notable artist and proponent of freedom of speech such as Ai Weiwei shows an interest in A New Dynasty – Created in China says something about the topicality and quality of this exhibition. We want to raise questions such as: what exactly fascinates, engages, and challenges contemporary Chinese artists? Where is Chinese society going in a national and an international sense?’, says Erlend G. Høyersten.


    Zhan Dali, Man And Beast, 2008



    Ai Weiwei (b. 1957):

    In his installation Yu Yi, 2015, Ai Weiwei links past and present. The work of art is a figure, 12 m in length and plaited in bamboo, that will float eight metres above visitors’ heads. The figure is a reference to a specific jade funeral garb from the Han Dynasty (c. 2000 years ago). At the same time, Yu Yi is a flying superman referring directly to China as the ultimate world superpower.

    Xu Bing (b. 1955):

    Xu Bing’s installation 1st Class, 2011, consists of 500,000 Chinese cigarettes laid out in an intricate pattern so that, from a distance, the cigarettes resemble a huge tiger’s skin. The tiger is central to Chinese culture as the symbol of health, strength, and prosperity. In this way, Xu Bing constructs a contrasting relationship between the symbolism inherent in the installation – the powerful tiger – and the actual content of the art work – the cigarettes presenting health risks. China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco. 43 per cent of all cigarettes in the world are produced in China. Add to this the fact that more than 300 million Chinese from all social classes are smokers.

    Maleonn (b. 1972):

    I his project Mobile Studio, 2012, Maleonn used the social medium Weibo to invite the whole country of China to orchestrate itself. The project resulted in 1,600 pictures and Maleonn spent one year criss-crossing the People’s Republic of China. Mobile Studio manages to bring a global social trend into focus: the culture of self-orchestration while the democratic nature of the project suspends Chinese class divisions allowing the meeting of high and low in this fictional project. Mobile Studio presents China in a series of creative, imaginative, and humorous individuals whose dreams, thoughts, and imagination are universal.

    Yin Xiuzhen (b. 1963):

    Yin Xiuzhen often uses recycled materials in her sculptures and art installations. As part of her project Portable Cities, Yin Xiuzhen will create a new work for the exhibition A New Dynasty – Created in China, namely a 3D travelling suitcase installation of Aarhus city sewed in local second-hand textiles. Yin Xiuzhen is fascinated with personal recollection. She sees memory as man’s most important roots in a modern world – especially in a country such as China where social and structural changes take place at a fast pace.


    150×200cm, Oil On Canvas 2015, Credit: ARoS



    Ai Weiwei, Peng Wei, Chen Danqing, Sui Jianguo, Shao Fan, Zhang Xiaogang, Li Songsong, Zhang Dali, Jing Kewen, Wang Yuanzheng, Chen Fei, Miao Xiaochun, Zhang Xiaotao, Xu Bing, Guan Fengdong, Liu Jianhua, Maleonn, Chen Xiaodan, Ji Wenyu, Zhu Weibing, Feng Feng, Yin Xiuzhen, Lam Laam Jaffa, Mao Tongqiang, Song Dong

    The exhibition A New Dynasty – Created in China is showing from 21 November 2015 to 22 May 2016 in the exhibition galleries at levels 1 and 6.

    Curator: Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS
    Curator: Pernille Taagaard Dinesen, curator, ARoS

    External curators:
    Curator:  Feng Boy
    Curator: Bjørn Inge Follevaag
    Curator: Wang Dong

    Featured image; The world-famous Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, has created Your rainbow panorama and it was officially opened in May 2011 on top of ARoS. 

    For more information about exhibitions and the ‘Whats on’ head to

    Thank you to ARoS ART Museum for text & photos

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