Elmgreen and Dragset – Forum For Critical Inquiry – Wednesday 19th October 2011

Elmgreen and Dragset are a collaborative duo from Denmark and Norway who often create humorous work with a subversive message. Their work falls strongly in the category of contemporary art as it makes a contribution to the ongoing discourse of modern issues such as economics, politics and philosophy rather than providing a concise answer.

The work This Space Can’t Be Yours works as an attack on the institution of the art gallery. The fact that the piece is an advertising board which normally shows something that could be yours yet it clearly displays in type that it can’t be yours. On another level the piece is a comment on contemporary art; it is meant to be available to all however in reality it is not. Contemporary art is incredibly expensive and available on an exclusive market, it is also very hard as an artist to get your work into well respected gallery spaces.

Another piece that comments on contemporary art is a work from the Powerless Structures series. The piece features a to scale building of a gallery space which has sunken into the ground, along the side of the building are the words Contemporary Art, however the only visible part of the phrase is ‘temporary art’. This suggests that Elmgreen and Dragset believe that art only is a passing phase and not as relevant as it seems. However it is important to note that Elmgreen and Dragset make their income from the Contemporary Art scene and use it to increase their celebrity and therefore their portfolio.

Personally their most poignant piece is Have you come here for forgiveness. In this work two plainly dressed people hand out white cards with the title of the piece written on it. As contemporary art deals with many issues and concerns itself with those on the fringes of the society some people could see it as an opportunity to become aware of these issues and therefore feel more socially conscious therefore feeling better in themselves. Elmgreen and Dragset ask whether this social consciousness is only being seeked out for personal gain, rather than actually becoming aware issues to act upon them.

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