One wouldn’t expect the art world to descend upon a small Danish town—but they did this weekend for the launch of the first ever ARoS Triennial. This new triennial, which will pop up every three years, features roughly 200 artworks that shed light on how humans have altered nature in the past, present and future.
Entitled The Garden—End of Times; Beginning of Times, it traces the history of garden in art, whether it was luscious landscapes in the romantic era to Robert Smithson’s land art masterpieces. Even still: Greenery isn’t what it used to be. Everything from the urban garden to toxic chemicals and bold, environmental statements that are more in tune with Bill Nye and our world’s ecological crisis made their debut.
The city’s shoreline was graced with over 20 new public art commissions, including giant sculptures by Katharina Grosse (who literally spraypainted the town red), and Rirkrit Tiravanija, who created a community space by the sea with sustainable cooking meetups and food-for-thought talks. Over at the ARoS Museum, the rainbow-hued, round walkway by Olafur Elaisson on the top floor was met with a new fog sculpture by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, while Ackroyd and Harvey created a giant lawn on the side of a nearby building. Meg Webster draws a thin line between art and activism with her plant pieces, one of which is inside of the museum, while another is out by the sea, a bed of soil, flowers and herbs, drawing attention to the decline in bee pollinators.
Over in the industrial district, Los Angeles artist Doug Aitken shows a new installation where he creates an “anger room” (a therapist’s designated space where patients can destroy everything around them) inside of a giant plant incubator. It taps into the denial of climate change in a science-hostile environment, a growing sentiment in the Trump administration, as well as ways we are destroying our planet—often without knowing it.
While most biennials and triennials are usually filled with a heavy dose conceptual ethos, which is far removed from the real world, the ARoS Triennial is a refreshing breath of fresh air, as it introduces artists who cultivate and cherish Mother Nature—a reminder we all need.