Art@Site Elmgreen &  Dragset The Care of Oneself California

Elmgreen & Dragset


The Care of Oneself

The Donum Estate
we carry ourselves
Even when almost all our strength is lost; when we untie our head, arms, legs. Even when we hold on with only one arm.
Then we carry ourselves with visible power. A robust set of biceps. Making a step forward. Our back straight. In the meanwhile looking at ourselves attentive and relaxed.
The spectator cannot see the person, due to the chrome surface only the environment is reflected. This person is all alone, and without the presence of others.
By Theo,

wij dragen onszelf
Ook als we bijna geen kracht meer hebben; als onze hoofd, arm, benen slap hangen. Ook als we alleen nog met één arm kunnen vasthouden.
Dan dragen wij onszelf terwijl wij zichtbaar krachtig zijn. Een stevig set biceps. Een stap vooruit zettend. Onze rug recht. Intussen aandachtig en ontspannen onszelf aankijkend.
De toeschouwer kan de persoon niet zien; door het chromen oppervlakte is alleen de omgeving weerkaatst. Deze persoon is alleen, zonder aanwezigheid van anderen.
Door Theo,
'It's a sculpture showing a man saving someone – like a hero – but he's actually saving himself, which puts into question personal responsibility, the individual versus society as a whole.' Elmgreen explains.
"The Care of Oneself" at Donum is a monumental sculpture of an idealised male nude that carries the inanimate body of another male nude – in much the same way that the Virgin Mary carries the lifeless body of Christ in Michelangelo's "Pieta". Considered more closely, the two figures reveal themselves to have the same face. They are, in fact, one and the same.
"We wanted to use classical language, but do it in a contemporary way," adds Elmgreen of the stainless steel sculpture, whose mirrored surface also reflects the viewer and surrounding landscape. A version of this work stands in front of the Palace of Justice in Lyon, France. "If you put a sculpture in public, people relate to it in a more personal way, because we all own the public space, and it's nice.
Danish-born Michael Elmgreen and Norwegian-born Ingar Dragset are one of the most famous duos in the contemporary art world. Now based in London and Berlin, they have been working together since 1995 and are perhaps best known for the gilded sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse that they positioned on the empty Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square ("Powerless Structures Fig. 101", 2011), contrasting the playful boy with the conquering generals and kings on the other plinths to present an alternative view of masculinity.
Elmgreen & Dragset pursue questions of identity and belonging and investigate social, cultural, and political structures in their artistic practice. They are interested in the discourse that can arise if objects are radically re-contextualized and if normal modes for the representation of art are altered.
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset employ performance, installation, design, and corrupted advertising to subvert collective sensibilities. They come at the objects and assumptions that rationalize our lives with an adolescent energy, protesting against the moroseness of maturity and refusing to surrender to the status quo. For them, commodity-driven capitalism, entirely absorbed by the newness of now, amounts to a fast-forward fossilization of material culture that destroys the environment and public space, reducing common areas to privately held fiefdoms. Artists-cum-activists, they are in no way inhibited by standard procedures or protocols. Driven by a desire to reach outsiders looking in, they positively vandalize social structures in an effort to force us to think of something better.
Elmgreen & Dragset are otherwise known for works that are irreverent and fanciful. As the duo explain, their works pose the question: "What would happen if?" In their permanent sculpture "Prada Marfa" (2005), they created the replica of a Prada boutique filled with luxury shoes and handbags and positioned it in the middle of a desert in Texas. At their 2014 installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, "Tomorrow," they transformed five rooms of the museum into the furnished home of a failed imaginary architect, whose life story was summed up in a little booklet handed to visitors on site. Some of the objects in the fantasy apartment came from the artists' own homes.
For the Venice Biennale in 2009 they curated the exhibition The Collectors in the neighboring Danish and Nordic Pavilions (which include Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). In 2017 Elmgreen and Dragset were the curators of the Istanbul Biennale, and in September 2018 the Whitechapel Gallery in London presents a major exhibition of their work.