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AARHUS, Denmark — Fifty-six site-specific sculptures now stand along the scenic coast of Aarhus, Denmark, brought together for the fourth edition of Sculpture by the Sea, the nation’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition that occurs every two years. This summer’s show, which runs through July 5, features artists from 24, largely Western countries. Many hail from Denmark, but others also represent European neighbors such as Germany, Norway, and the Czech Republic or more distant regions such as Australia, India, and Lebanon.
Free to the public and accessible at any time of day, the exhibition invites viewers to experience art in a variety of environments, drawing a nearly two-mile route that extends from the shores of the country’s second-largest city to its dense and secluded forests.
Many of the works play on the familiar aspects of their environment to turn tropes into fresh visions: Danish artist Nynne Livbjerg builds a sandcastle-like model of Aarhus inside a sphere, echoing the landscape via tourist kitsch. Washed ashore in Czech artist Michal Motyčka’s work are the literal treasures of the sea: larger-than-life diamonds that merge water, sky, and sand in dazzling, mirrored panels. And rather than a squawking flock of seagulls, white security cameras perch haphazardly on rocks in Jakub Geltner‘s systematically named “Nest 05” as a reminder of the constant surveillance in society.
Others choose instead to disrupt the natural, such as Thomas Lindvig, who blends concrete and electricity to create a stark, industrial structure that oozes isolation in an already quiet setting. Courtesy of Brazilian artist Geraldo Zamproni, large shipping containers balance precariously on smooth, inflated pillows — a surreal image that is calm in its inertia but at the same time imposes a constant threat to one’s sense of security. Such sculptures are glaring, but others require greater attention to nature and perhaps a bit of luck to spot: Nicolas Vionnet and Wouter Sibum, for example, planted pumps in the sea so water suddenly spurts at random intervals from the azure surface as if from the blowholes of unseen cetaceans.
Easily the crowd favorite, “Den Uendelige Bro” by architecture duo Johan Gjøde and Niels Povlsgaard is a functional deck that curves its way over the water before finding the shore once more. Visitors move further from the beach as they walk on it, observing the landscape from different viewpoints and having the option to rest and enjoy the outdoors from new, usually inaccessible spots. It’s a simple structure yet an experience that captures the spirit of Sculpture by the Sea, inviting individuals to take time to immerse in nature and contemplate it from novel perspectives.
Sculpture by the Sea continues along the coast of Aarhus, Denmark (Tangkrogen, Marselisborg Havnevej 1, 8000 Aarhus C) through July 5.