Seize The Moment
3 July 2003
It's not easy being famous in one field and at the same time insisting on having a talent for something completely different. For what will you be judged? How often have we seen celebrities not met with respect and admiration for creations far removed from their usual field, the one for which they're known - none mentioned - none forgotten?
Viggo Mortensen is - as most people probably realise by now - world famous as the noble warrior Aragorn in the film version of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
But he is also a poet, a painter and a photographer, and it is in that last capacity that he has kept the Museet for Fotokunst very busy in the last days before the gallery opening.
He is exhibiting approximately one hundred photos taken over a long period of time, from 1978 to this year, and fans from most of the world would do anything to see - not the images but Viggo...
It's not his fault but the hysterical hype inevitably brings about a certain scepticism. Luckily it quite quickly becomes clear that Viggo Mortensen isn't just a celebrity that takes pictures. He is a photographer, a sensitive and intuitive image artist whose images are very much influenced by his other modes of expression: poetry and especially painting.
Just as he spreads himself over many art forms, his photos are of many genres, modes and in many keys. Viggo Mortensen is ruled by the moment, the themes come to him - not the other way around, and none can doubt that the long hours of waiting around on the sets have given him ample opportunities to work with the form of expression that is presumably his favourite.
He wants it all. The lack of a distinct style - a watermark that would make it possible to speak of a 'true Mortensen' - makes the large exhibit interesting and diverse.
It is not a coincidence that he has called this exhibit Ephëmeris meaning 'short-term', 'passing', but you are not tempted to interpret it as a transitory sign, instead it is to be experienced as 'carpe diem', seize the day, do not let the moment slip from your grasp. He wants to capture it all and to a large extent he succeeds.
That is the reason that one moves from quiet minimalism - as in the black and white Leaving Christchurch, that makes you think of the laconic movies by Jim Jarmusch - to the colourful panoramas, a dynamic poetic expressionism brought about by the use of high-speed film, that transforms the well-known and trite to fascinating super-reality. All in all you see a lot of the influence of painting in his images, the manipulating and mood-accentuating, that only a couple of times almost crosses the line and becomes thunder for its own sake.
The loyal fans will not be disappointed either. If they go to the exhibit that is. They can recognise Viggo in many of the photos and they can challenge each other by competing to see who can guess from which movie set the images hail. In that way you can say that there is something for everyone. Including Fotomuseet that deserves full credit after all the trouble they had to go through to exhibit an international celebrity.
Last edited: 24 June 2006 13:39:55