When you come into the room, you see furniture, and then you see mirrors, and then you think: Good lord, what’s all this about?
That’s Karin Hellandsjø, who was deputy director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo when the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto created his large installation Image and Body.
The work known as Image and Body is actually getting on a bit now. It was created way back in 1991, and in many ways it’s very closely linked to the Museum of Contemporary Art, or perhaps to the old Norges Bank, because it consists of furniture that was made for Norges Bank in 1904 and that was still in the old bank building when the museum moved in there in 1990. And that's when the artist saw these items of furniture and said that he wanted to use them.
And what Pistoletto did, well, one thing he did was to turn around and up-end items of furniture, but he also added glass, which is kind of one of his trademarks, mirrored glass.
So he plays little tricks on you. The artist tricks you slightly until he’s caught you up in his work.
When we move around within this work, we become actors in a type of theatrical performance. And this is part of what’s exciting about Pistoletto’s art, the way he involves us so directly. It’s a lot of fun if we allow ourselves to be receptive, and so it’s very much up to us how much we get out of it. But of course that’s the case with all types of art really. If you want to have a dialogue with an artwork, then you have to contribute something yourself, otherwise you don’t get anything back.