The entire ground floor of the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) has been remodelled for the exhibition Biography by Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset.
It features over 50 works from the artist’s nearly 20 years career, with some of their best known works shown alongside new site-specific commissions including, Welcome (2014), a full scale Airsteam caravan crushed by a giant ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. Also on display for the first time is a smaller bronze sculpture depicting a Rolex watch, The Award (2014), which has been re-cast using the bronze from the artists’ own Eckersberg Medal, one of the highest Danish cultural honours awarded by the Queen. The One and the Many (2010), a 12 metre tall social housing block, where visitors can look into the homes of the fictional tenants, sits in the main foyer of the Museum juxtaposed against the grand architecture of the museum. From there a labyrinthine corridor system takes visitors onto a Kafkasque journey through a series of institutional spaces such as the waiting room of a job centre, a homeless shelter, a public restroom and a morgue.
Using humour, poetry, and spectacular visual devices, Elmgreen & Dragset create universes in which even familiar, drab institutional spaces and banal domestic settings suddenly appear as magical, and through the artists’ alterations or displacements of ordinary designs new realities start to unfold. In spite of its title, the exhibition can by no means be regarded as an autobiographical statement. It is rather a personal investigation into the very conditions for how to constitute an identity in today’s celebrity driven culture. What the term “biographical” means in the context of social media and how self-staged identities seem to have dissolved the classic notion of community, class belonging and social roles, will all be explored in the exhibition.
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, based in Berlin and London, have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including Serpentine Gallery ,Tate Modern and V&A in London, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, ZKM Museum of Modern Art in Karlsruhe, The Power Plant in Toronto, MUSAC in Léon, and Kunsthalle Zürrich. Their work has been included in the Berlin, Sao Paulo, Gwangju, Moscow, Singapore, Istanbul and Liverpool biennials, and in 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition The Collectors in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Amongst their most well known works are Prada Marfa – a full scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert, and Short Cut – a car and a caravan breaking through the ground which was first shown in Milan and now resides in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Recent projects include a major exhibition, Tomorrow at the V&A Museum, London and their Powerless Structures, Fig 101 showing a boy astride a rocking horse on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square during the Olympic year.