Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...
The fifth edition of Sydney Contemporary will take place once again at Carriageworks between 12 and 15 September 2019, with Spring 1883 bringing together a cohort of 27 galleries from across Australia and the region to inhabit rooms at the Establishment Hotel from 11 to 14 September 2019, uniquely presenting contemporary works propped up on...
Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...
The writing is definitely on the wall for Elmgreen & Dragset, whose new work at Victoria Miro’s gallery in Mayfair—a series entitled Self-Portraits—marks 20 years of the pair’s artistic collaboration. The series consists of appropriated museum wall labels that describe other artists’ work, including David Hockney, Roni Horn, Martin Kippenberger and Nicole Eisenman, in a range of the most traditional high-art materials, including the finest carved marble.
It’s ironic, given they have always made a point of banning labels from their own shows. The mind slightly boggles at the subtext to titles such as Two Fighting Bulls (Allan Kaprow) and Clean Boy (David Hockney), while they reveal that their reason for selecting On Kawara’s 15 April, 1994 is because it was the date of their first meeting.
Self-Portraits is Elmgreen & Dragset’s third solo exhibition at Victoria Miro and
A wall label is normally not an integral part of a work of art. It is there to inform the viewer who the artist behind the work is,what the title of the work is, what materials it is made from, which year it was made, perhaps who gifted it or lent it to the museum, and so on. Apart from the facts it communicates, it has no particular value as an object.
Not so in Elmgreen & Dragset’s Self-Portraits. In this new series of works, the artist duo
Placing emphasis on the insignificant and indistinguishable is a familiar approach in Elmgreen & Dragset’s work, especially within their on-going investigations of the physical and social conventions of art galleries and other institutions (hospitals,public waiting rooms, prisons, airports) in society. In one of their first projects, the artists added countless layers of white paint to a white cube gallery, from 12 noon till 12 midnight. In another, later work, at Kunsthalle Zürich, they exposed the renovation,preparation and building processes that go on between exhibitions, normally hidden from the visitor’s eye. At Victoria Miro in 2012, the artists showed The Named Series, which consisted of actual wall surfaces carefully removed by a restorer from the interior of some of the world’s most renowned museums, and then reapplied to canvas as monochromes with various textures and colour tones of white.
The title of their new series of works – Self-Portraits – signals a personal layer in which each title of the other artist’s work represents a special experience or emotional development in Elmgreen & Dragset’s own lives. These titles are here utilised to portray aspects of Elmgreen & Dragset’s personal history and identities. And leads to the question of what a ‘self-portrait’ can be in our current cultural climate. The artists themselves explain:
Today, endless self-portraiture in the form of ‘selfies’ – each one following conventions resulting ultimately in images which are similar in appearance – makes it clearer than ever that a self-portrait does not reveal the ‘true nature of one’s inner self’. A self-portrait will always be a reflection of how one sees one’s self and wants to stage one’s appearance in relation to the surrounding world. It is a response to the projections put upon one from other people, as well as one’s urge to project a fuller, richer image of one’s self. But in order to obtain this, one is dependent on using signs and codes with connotations that are common, or else they will not be able to recognise the attempted image of one’s self.
By employing appropriated language and thwarting familiar conceptual strategies, Elmgreen & Dragset propose a different form of self-portraiture. One that functions more like poetry, where cerebral and emotional experience collide. Then again, what is a ‘self-portrait’ of two people, of two artists collaborating? Maybe it is that of an imaginary third persona in between the two artists.
Subversive humor is at the heart of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s widely divergent contemporary works that often include the transformation of architectural spaces and sculpture. The Scandinavian duo met in the mid-nineties at a nightclub in Copenhagen, lived together for a decade, and still collaborate today from their respective...
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