Disintegrated Parts

What makes art - in my humble opinion - is the aesthetic judgement one makes about it. While an artist can try to share a certain aesthetic vibe, there is no guarantee these aesthetics resonate with the casual observer.

In this way I never understood, truly understood, sculptures. Sure enough, by observing them I could imagine the skill required to make these sculptures in the first place, but the aesthetic value of sculptures never resonated with me. That was until I visited Frogner park.

An unforeseen chain of events had led me to Oslo, and eventually to Frogner park as well. I had visited that park before as a kid, during a summer holiday spent in Norway. What I remember from that visit was the busyness of a hot summer day, and naked statues. Many naked statues. Being the kid I was at that time I perceived those mostly as being awkward. Something shameful to look at, something to be judged about by my parents if I were to look at those. And why were they all different? Couldn’t they just put the same naked statues all in line to create some symmetry?

More than a decade later I happened to stumble upon the same place all over again. This time was different though. I was on my own, strolling through Oslo. It was an evening somewhere during spring, and the park was a quiet, and peaceful place. It was in the calmth that I took another look at these statues. Naked as they were, observing what was expressed through them.

The first statues were those of children, during various stages of their development. Playing with their parents, being angry, making up again. What these statues expressed was not so much aesthetically pleasing as much as it was raw human emotion. And so I continued as the nakedness of these statues made way for an empathetic experience of these expressions.

And I felt sorry for myself; for all the things I had never experienced.

Until there was the man fighting off the babies, pitying all the fathers whom never wanted to father their own kids - nor those of others - while weeping for those being rejected by their own parents; including myself.

Throughout the park these experiences came and went. From the small kid standing alone in the barren wasteland to the parents weeping with their deceased child in their arms. From physical sickness to mental illness. From being misunderstood and rejected to being supported. The men on their deathbeds, one waiting for the sweet relief of death, the other one fearing death in agony.

As I entered the park I was experiencing these expressions for myself; the things all I did in fact experience throughout life, and all that I did not. Or maybe not yet. As I left the park this sorrow made place for a joyful experience of all that I could share with others. My son in particular, our experiences standing in stark contrast with one another.

I couldn’t help but wonder about the way my parents would have experienced these same statues many years ago. Was their experience as healing as mine, or did they just visit that place because it was a touristy thing to do?

Just like many of the few other non-local visitors that evening. Going about with their selfie sticks, showing off the cool place they were visiting. It’s a damn shame they forfeited their opportunity to experience these magnificent statues. Instead feeling the need to derive their self worth from the attention of others, rather than from the truth of their own feelings. The feelings and expressions one can briefly experience in this place, with this place being a catalogue of experiences more than anything else. With the peace and quietness around to deeply emphasize with these for a brief moment, without being bogged down by the sheer complexity and context of the real world. A place to experience, to cherish, and to heal.

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