The V&A has commissioned a major site-specific installation over five galleries by leading contemporary artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Opening in October 2013, Tomorrow will transform the V&A’s former textile galleries into an apartment belonging to a fictional, elderly and disillusioned architect.
The installation will feature over 100 objects from the V&A’s collections, which will sit alongside works by the artists, as well as items sourced from antique markets. The juxtaposition of objects, which will be arranged as a grand domestic interior, will create ambiguity and raise questions about cultural heritage. Martin Roth, V&A Director, said: “We are excited to be working with two of the world’s leading contemporary artists on this ambitious project. The result will be unsettling and provoking and above all will present the V&A’s collections in a radically new and memorable way for our visitors.”
Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibition Tomorrow will appear like a set for an unrealised film. To accompany it, the artists have written a script, which will be available to visitors as a printed book. The drama centres on a retired architect who had great vision but very little success in his professional life. In his twilight years, and with the family fortune long gone, he is forced to sell his inherited home and all his possessions. The script comments on issues of ageing, disappointment and alienation in today’s society.
Within the domestic setting, visitors will act as uninvited guests, able to curl up in the architect’s bed, recline on his sofa, or rifle through books placed by the artists to hint at the imagined events that could have taken place here.
Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset said: “On one of our early visits to the V&A to discuss the show, we encountered the former textile galleries which were being used for storage and closed to the public. When we found these spaces we knew right away what we wanted to do. Making this exhibition is like creating a detailed set for a film, but with access to the incredible collections of the V&A to choose from. While selecting objects to furnish the apartment we began to envision pieces of dialogue between characters that we could imagine might inhabit the space. So we wrote a script. It was sort of a reversed process where the props in our film set initiated the narrative. Now it’s our hope that visitors will interact freely with this set and discover their own clues as to who our fictional and quite eccentric inhabitant might be.”
Tomorrow will examine interests that have abided throughout the artists’ careers – those of redefining the way in which art is presented and experienced, issues around social models and how spaces and objects both inflict on and reflect our behavioural patterns. Such ideas are visible in many of the artist duo’s previous exhibitions, including The Welfare Show at Serpentine Gallery in 2006, The Collectors at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 and The One and The Many at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 2011.
Elmgreen & Dragset have worked closely with V&A curator Louise Shannon to research and select objects from the V&A collections.
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 and Tate Modern 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 Zürich. 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 their “Powerless Structures, Fig 101” showing a boy astride a rocking horse on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, and the Scandinavian debut of their Performa-commissioned play Happy Days in the Art World at the Bergen International Festival and the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen in Summer 2012.
The exhibition takes place at the V&A from 1 October 2013 – 2 January 2014.
Photo: Elmgreen & Dragset courtesy V&A