Art of the Millennium : One Man's Millennium

By Henkin, Stephen | The World and I, November 1999 | Go to article overview

Art of the Millennium : One Man's Millennium


Henkin, Stephen, The World and I


Perhaps no other contemporary artist expresses the adventuresome yet introspective nature of the Norwegian national character more than Vebjorn Sand. Trained in the classical techniques of the Old Masters, the highly publicized, 33-year-old artist has been commissioned by a large real-estate developer in Oslo to build a great glass star to welcome the new millennium. The illuminated star, which is currently slated to float over Oslo on New Year's Eve, will be permanently installed at Gardermoen Naeringspark, near the new Oslo Airport, on January 2.

Sand's conceptual take on the structure, first conceived by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571--1630), employs one of the five bodies of Platonic symmtery, the icosahedron, as its basic form. The star, composed of twenty three-sided pyramids radiating from the core icosahedron, has arms covered with faceted glass, which gives the whole work an open and ethereal quality. Measuring 45 1/2 feet high by 45 1/2 feet wide, it will become the tallest sculpture in Norway at 146 feet when placed on its pedestal tower.

"I am inspired by the pentagon," says Sand. "You can find these Platonic forms everywhere. You find them in microcosmic and microscopic forms."

The artist proposes to debut his Kepler Star at the same site as his Trollslottet (Troll Castle) exhibit: high above Oslo near the Holmenkollen ski jump. Lit from within, the prototype star will be on display for all of Oslo to see during the holiday season. "We will float it over the capital and move it over to the new airport. It will become a landmark. It will be seen all over Oslo--really visible by the moon and from the air."

"No other countries are taking a millennial approach [to such artistic projects]," he asserts.

The Troll Castle itself was a phenomenally successful public installation that grew out of two of Sand's expeditions (1994, '97) to Antarctica (he was invited to participate as an artist). "Most of the expeditions were kind of visual explorations," he explains.

Upon his return, and in collaboration with renowned production designer John-Kristian Alsaker, he created a ten-tower structure of ice and snow over an armature of fiberglass and steel. Housed within humidity- controlled glass cases were Sand's mysterious and haunting oil paintings, in a robust, natural-themed setting.

"After the second trip [to Antarctica] I saw a beautiful mountain called the Troll Castle. That was part of their ice desert," says Sand, recalling his inspiration. "Part of my vision was to bring the beauty of Antarctica--a sense of adventure and travel--back to Norway and work with other artists to make the dream into reality," says Sand. "Every Norwegian has a dream of walking through the wilderness, of walking along through the ice."

The artist notes that explorers like Robert Scott and Edward Wilson brought artists with them to Antarctica. "An artist came to the South Pole in 1911. On the body of Wilson they found, after sixty or seventy years, a painting," he notes.

Another of Sand's millennial projects drawing upon classical influences is the construction in Norway of a bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. Originally commissioned by Sultan Bajazet II to span the Bosporus, the 1,155-foot-long Golden Horn Bridge has been scaled down to a 190-foot-long wooden version and moved some 1,500 miles north to suburban Oslo, where it will become a pedestrian and cyclist bridge spanning the highway between Norway and Sweden. …

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