Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset have been working together since 1995, integrating art, architecture, installation, public art and performance in tragic-comic ways. They create situations of farcical futility, whose light-hearted images/empty sinks, stranded star fish, refuse from rave night, an empty public pookcarry darker meanings that force us to confront the absurdity and beauty of everyday life.
Their works are described as cheeky and irreverent, poking at the institutions that regulate our lives. By virtually kidnapping objects and placing them in unexpected situations, the artists question how culture shapes and frames our environment. Their iconic Prada Marfa store, for example, sends up the austere Donald Judd compound in Marfa, Texas, by plopping a faux Prada store on a dusty road nearby. Judd's foundation has created a luxury arts getaway in the desert, and with exclusive experiences comes high end fashion, the artists seem to say. Elmgreen & Dragset eliminate the distance between inside and out, between artistic white cube and daily life.
Elmgreen & Dragset used the phrase "powerless structures" in their 2012 commission for the Fourth Plinth project in London's Trafalgar Square, and this phrase captures the regal uselessness of their giant bronze telescope A Greater Perspective, commission for the High Line in New York. The telescope is not accessible given its height, and anyway, it is solid bronze, meaning there is no vista to be enjoyed.
The artists' use this old-fashioned, romantic tool of discovery to suggests the perspective of the great explorers who shape history is too narrow to accommodate the wide world around us. For Sculpture Milwaukee, A Greater Perspective is sited on the edge of Wisconsin avenue, overlooking the lake. No telescope could reveal the traces that successive generations of visitors left on our shore. The sculpture feels lonely, bereft of its' purpose, a lingering monument to clouded vision, a call to knowing our own past.
Michael Elmgreen was born in 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark; Ingar Dragset was born in 1969 in Trondheim, Norway. The artists live and work in Berlin.
Over the past fifteen years, their works have been shown in museums across the globe, including: the Whitechapel Gallery, London; FIAC Hors les Murs, Place Vendôme, Paris; Museum Haus Lange, Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Germany; Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Tramway, Glasgow; Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Thorvadsens Museum, Copenhagen; Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich; Zentrum für Kunst and Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany, the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León, Spain; the Serpentine Gallery, London; The Power Plant, Toronto; Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany; CGAC - Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland.
Gallery exhibitions have been held in: Berlin; Copenhagen; Hong Kong; Lisbon, Portugal; London; Madrid; Miami; Milan; New York; Odense, Denmark, Oslo, Norway; Paris; Reykjavik, Iceland, Tokyo;
Their work has been included in selected groups show at the following museums: Villa Arson, Nice, France; The Met Breuer, New York; the Bangkok Art Biennial, Thailand; MMK Frankfurt am Main, Germany; the National Gallery of Singapore; Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal; AROS Triennial, AROS Museum, Aarhus, Denmark; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany; Punta Della Dogana, Venice, Italy, the High Lind, New York; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina; the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; the Liverpool Biennial, United Kingdom; the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Thailand; the 12th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, the 3rd Athens Biennial, Greece; the 3rd Singapore Biennale, Malaysia, and the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Florence, among many others.
Their curatorial work includes: the 15th Istanbul Biennial, 2017; A Space Called Public, Munich; and the Danish and Nordic Pavilions for the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009. They have held performances at the Old Vic Theater, London, and Skulptur Projeckte Münster, Germany.