Kunsthal Aarhus has been given the opportunity to realize an art project of unprecedented dimensions: A transformation with a series of total installations. Peter Ole Pedersen and Kunsthal Aarhus have won with the upcoming exhibition project Go Extreme. For the show, artists will explore the subject of body and mind in connection with extreme feats of athleticism. The Vision Exhibition Award is awarded by the Bikuben Foundation, and in connection with the award Kunsthal Aarhus will receive DKK 5 million towards realising the art project, scheduled to be presented in mid-2021.
Extreme sports is a wild and extensive world that can involve deep spirituality and dedication, but also fierce struggles and total exhaustion. It is about body and mind, and about what the human body is capable of under extreme conditions, facing radical challenges. Go Extreme at Kunsthal Aarhus will explore this fascinating territory. Taking its point of departure in a meeting of visual art and extreme sport, the project will extend beyond the Kunsthal itself, incorporating the public spaces of Aarhus for audience encounters with disciplines such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Go Extreme will transform all of Kunsthal Aarhus into a single, vast installation. Inside, artists will be invited to create three immersive installations bearing the titles Extreme Fitness, The Arena and Bodies and Beyond. The various segments of the exhibition will address a wide variety of sports, including martial arts, triathlon, bodybuilding and E-sports, giving visitors the opportunity to fight in a Mixed Martial Arts arena, have their own body represented by an avatar in the virtual world and test themselves in a fitness centre devoted to extremes.
In the autumn of 2020, we brought together extreme sports athletes, artists and scholars at Kunsthal Aarhus for a number of discussion-sparking and story-telling events as a prelude to the exhibition, which opens in August 2021.
WATCH EACH OF THE THREE TALKS IN THE DEBATE FEATURE BELOW
The jury selected Go Extreme, an exhibition idea where artists explore body and mind in extreme feats of physical prowess, because the proposal generously presents the subject in formats that will bring many audience groups into close contact with the world of art.
Go Extreme explores humanity’s attempts to overcome our own physical limitations, looking at sports as a means of personal and spiritual fulfilment. Taking a distinctive and original approach, Go Extreme builds on art’s search for the sublime through history while also contributing new, innovative input to our present-day discussion on the post-human. Through physical activity and modern technology, audiences will engage directly with artistic studies of the nature and essence of extreme sports. They will even have the opportunity to transcend the limitations of their own body in the exhibition’s virtual space.
The exhibition prompts us to think about – and takes a critical look at – the kind of experience culture we are currently developing, challenging our ideas about what is physically (and humanly) possible. Go Extreme has depth, complexity and poetic qualities while also addressing a topic with strong popular appeal and relevance.
The sheer potential in combining the questing nature of arts and of extreme sports is well spotted, and with its highly entertaining approach the exhibition breaks new ground, pushing back established definitions of what an art institution and an art audience are ‘supposed’ to be like.