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Elmgreen & Dragset, Death of a Collector, 2009. © Courtesy: Galeria Helga de Alvear. Photo by:  Anders Sune Berg

© Elmgreen & Dragset, Death of a Collector, 2009. © Courtesy: Galeria Helga de Alvear. Photo by:  Anders Sune Berg

Press releases | Exhibition | 22.may.2014

Major exhibition of Elmgreen & Dragset at National Gallery of Denmark to open in September

This September, the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) opens a major exhibition by Scandinavian artist duo, Elmgreen & Dragset. The exhibition is the second in the series, Biography, which started in February at Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo.

Biography takes over the entire ground floor of the museum, which has been remodelled for the exhibition, altering the way visitors and staff interact with the space. 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. Often the artists merge the seemingly real with the fantastical in their extensive installations, as evinced in The Collectors, their lauded contribution to the Venice Biennale in 2009, their critically acclaimed exhibition, The Welfare Show at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2006) and most recently their large scale installation Tomorrow at the Victoria & Albert Museum in Autumn 2013.

“The exhibition takes shape as a filmic scenography where visitors will actively participate as protagonists, not just as passive spectators. When we do an exhibition such as this, we consider the exhibition format an artwork in itself” say Elmgreen & Dragset.

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.

Elmgreen & Dragset show us the urgency of daring to stick out from the crowd, and at the same time they make us painstakingly aware that we have to construct our identities, live out our desires and control our fears within the rigid systems of society. Although we remain merely “one of many”, the exhibition portrays humanity’s inherent will to stubbornly dream and create one’s own narratives in the midst of conformity.

The newly appointed director of the SMK, Mikkel Bogh, says:

”Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibition BIOGRAPHY takes an open, unprejudiced approach to the question of life as it is lived today, suspended between system and freedom, between a culture of consensus and the pressure to act individually. These are questions that we all have to relate to. It is rare to see visitors accorded such a major role – perhaps even that of a main protagonist – as they are in Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibition, which prompts them to enter a theatre of dreams and imagination.”

Biography will run 19 September 2014 –  4 January 2015

About Elmgreen and Dragset 
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.


Elmgreen & Dragset - Biography is supported by
C.L. David Foundation and Collection
Knud Højgaard Foundation
Krogager Foundation
Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Marys Foundation
Dreyer Foundation

For further information, please contact:

Head of Press
Karen Ormstrup Søndergaard
E karen.soendergaard@smk.dk
M +45 2552 7203

Chief Curator 
Marianne Torp
T +45 2552 7224 
E marianne.torp@smk.dk

Updated: 26.aug.2014
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