Elmgreen & Dragset Hold up a Queer Mirror to the Art World
The sculptures of artist-collaborators and former lovers Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have always reflected upon the company they keep, from the biennial circuit to the art fair jet-set, casting the rarified culture industry in a queer, satirical light. Death of a Collector, installed at the Danish and Nordic pavilion during the 2009 Venice Biennale, drowned the figure of a businessman (à la Sunset Boulevard, 1950) face-down in a pool. For Traces of a Never Existing History/Powerless Structures, Fig. 222, commissioned for the 2001 Istanbul Biennial, the artists half-buried a rectangular gallery in a garden, revealing the words ‘Temporary Art’ on its façade. The art world’s already precarious institutions are ruined in their dystopic tableaux. In their first US survey at the Nasher Sculpture Center, the artists are darkly comic jesters in a royal court, with works spanning their three-decade practice installed alongside the museum’s irony-free modernist collection of sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra and others.
Image: Elmgreen & Dragset, Traces of a Never Existing History/Powerless Structures, Fig. 222, 2001,
Wood, stainless steel, aluminium, Perspex, fluorescent light and paint, 3.1 × 4.3 × 7.8 m. Courtesy: Elmgreen & Dragset Studio