The artist duo, who have worked together since 1995 and are based in Berlin, explore social and sexual politics in their work and unveil the power structures embedded in the everyday. They challenge the architecture of their exhibition venues allowing visitors to re-experience domestic and institutional settings.
Focused on creating art that has impact, the artists see their work as instituting change, all kinds of things – politics, perceptions, aesthetic conventions – by surprising people. Throughout their career, the artists have redefined the way in which art is presented and experienced.
Dilemma AR (2019) is based on a physical sculpture previously created by the artists and permanently sited at Ekebergparken, Oslo, Norway. ‘Dilemma’ (2017) depicts a young boy on the edge of a tall diving board positioned to create the illusion that he is on the verge of leaping into the fjord below. Continuing the leitmotif of the swimming pool and its accessories, the sculpture also reiterates the themes of childhood and the transition into adulthood Elmgreen & Dragset have explored since the mid-2000s. Perhaps feeling pressure to live up to society’s conventional ideas of masculinity, the boy seems frightened and unsure if he should jump or not, making him an embodiment of the uncertainty behind the decisions, actions, and expectations that are part of growing up.
What happens in this situation? Will the boy take the plunge into the unknown? Or will he turn around to climb down again?
Main image: Dilemma (2017) at Ekebergparken, Oslo. Photo by Florian Holzherr.
Michael Elmgreen (born 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969 in Trondheim, Norway) are based in Berlin and have worked together as an artist duo since 1995.
They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including Museum Haus Lange, Kunstmuseen Krefeld (2017); FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2016); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016); PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2015); Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011); ZKM Museum of Modern Art, Karlsruhe (2010); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2009); The Power Plant, Toronto (2006); Serpentine Gallery, London (2006); Tate Modern, London (2004); and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001).
Their work has been included in the Istanbul (2013, 2011, 2001), Liverpool (2012), Performa 11 (New York, 2011), Singapore3 (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Venice (2009, 2003), Gwangju (2006, 2002), São Paulo (2002), and Berlin (1998) biennials.
In 2005 the artists installed the sculpture Prada Marfa, a replica Prada store, in the Texan desert. In 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition “The Collectors” in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. The artists were shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000) and won the Preis der Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2002).
In 2012 they were selected for London’s Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square, and in summer 2016 Public Art Fund presented their sculpture “Van Gogh’s Ear” at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Elmgreen & Dragset curated the 15th Istanbul Biennial in 2017.
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