‘Elmgreen & Dragset: The Nervous System’ at Pace New York

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Last chance to see: “Elmgreen & Dragset: Nervous System” Pace New York

Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset called for attention to short-term memory and attention to the crisis beyond the pandemic at the first major show at Pace Gallery.

There is a painter working in the gallery on the ground floor facing the streets of Pace New York, which looks like a passerby on West 25th Street. He stands in front of a fairly white canvas, with a spatula still in one hand, untouched except for a single sweeping black stroke reminiscent of tire marks. His back is directed at us and we are forced to guess his facial expression, but his brute force and unfriendly outfits-jeans, sands shirts, muscular backs and shoulders Visible-indicates the highest confidence.

Painter, Figure 1, As he is called, is one of the 12 works (10 of which are new) that Elmgreen & Dragset included in their solo exhibition “Nervous System”. A previous work by the Scandinavian artist Duo depicts a boy straddling a horse for the Fourth Plinth in London and a lone teenager sitting in a fire escape, the man of his prime minister. There is a postcard photo of a hero inspired by an old photo of Willem de Kooning at his East Hampton Studios. But their current show is not a tribute to Abstract Expressionism. The impression of nostalgia is quickly confused by the small artwork in the same space, the wellington boots with holes (made of patina bronze). “They are a symbol of our pathetic efforts to protect ourselves from climate change, and how can we change the course without completely changing our behavior,” the artist explains.

It rains heavily, 2021 by Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo: Elmar Vestner

As you step into the main gallery, you’ll encounter more disturbing images. The boy is staring through a lightbox display disguised as a window.Earlier this year, the artist created a similarly structured piece. off-line, A bitter remorse about the life of a pandemic. The boy pushes his hand against Perspecs and appears to be anxious for “something that can’t be found inside, or a reality other than what he finds online.” The new work has a more ominous tone, with the airy blue sky being replaced by a bunch of storms. Here, the boy’s arm is raised and his right hand is holding a gun. Its shape is intentionally ambiguous and can be read as either a toy or a deadly weapon.Still, it’s hard not to see Boy with a gun And don’t immediately think of the onslaught of gun violence that makes the United States outliers in the developed world.

Boy with a gun, 2021, by Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo: Elmar Vestner

“Shooting at school is almost always a problem for white men. Statistics show that it is the white boy who is responsible for these shootings, which has to do with the sense of qualification,” they say. .. They are concerned that boys are often expected to play with toy guns rather than being taught to respect the lives of others:’The idea of ​​causing violence is very early in life. Begins to form in. That is why we need to devote as much effort and resources as we can to nurture the next generation in a different way. “

The artist’s commentary on the masculinity crisis continues throughout the space, featuring three well-known characters: Bogdan, Kev, and Flo. Short storyThe first installation exhibited at the König Gallery in Berlin. This time, an old man in a wheelchair is placed asleep on a black woolen rug designed by the artist. Less than a yearAs the title suggests, it is covered with 364 white marks, probably indicating the imminent end of Bogdan or the end of the era. Kev and Flo are two boys on the other side of the tennis court, the young Kev apparently lost the game and exhausted to the floor, and the older Flo holds the trophy but seems discouraged. I can see it.Unlike Berlin, where viewers are free to roam the tennis courts, the “nervous system” courts can only be seen behind the glass, which makes us Boy with a gun And it is based on the experience of artwork in the current pandemic.

Installation view of “The Nervous System” by Elmgreen & Dragset. Bogdan On a new woolen rug by the artist, Less than a year..In the background Coccyx (stainless steel), “Provides a neutral, contemporary portrait of humans, without indicators of gender, race, or other socio-demographic variables.” Photo courtesy of Pace Gallery

Perhaps contrary to our will, we remember the fact that we are indoors. The effect is enhanced by the furniture in the show. Carefully procured to remind you of the mid-century, or created by Elmgreen & Dragset (both unique masculine “ox” chairs by Hans J Wegner and long leather sofas). I have. The second rug of the exhibition. Lost memoryHas seven circular holes and, despite its geometric accuracy, feels like a hole in an ammunition. The original travertine fireplace has elegant proportions inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s visit to the public library in São Paulo by the artist. But it was confusing, came over on the TV antenna, and was etched with the words, “The oracle has disappeared and it is God that has been lost.” (Adjacent kiss, A new sculpture of two intersecting jerrycans).

Cows and snakesIt features a lacquered bronze python wrapped around a “cow” chair by Hans J Wegner, by Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo: Elmar Vestner

The artist also created a table lamp featuring a porcelain base of two gently intersecting spheres. This is a white cotton lampshade in the shape of a lemniscate that tapers towards the two necks that support the light bulb. They were inspired by the Qing dynasty vases they met at the Taipei Palace Museum many years ago:’Despite their age, it reminded us of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Perfect Lovers‘, They remember. Unusual as artwork, it is available in four colorways (three editions each): Mint Green, Dove Blue, Millennial Pink, and Eggshell White. They point out that the actual colors refer to food colorings used to coat HIV drugs such as torbada and eisentres. Behind its visual appeal is a painful history that must not be forgotten.

Combined lamp (mint green), By Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo: Elmar Vestner

This is a melancholic exhibition, a warning message in a city that was optimistically blinded, at least until the arrival of the Omicron variant. As Elmgreen & Dragset explains, “The role of the artist is to go against short-term memory. This is one of the few tasks we have.” As shed in the promise of a bright future after the pandemic. In a world that looks like, they want to remind us that there are long-standing problems to deal with. It’s wise to work head-on so that you don’t leave two boots with holes when the water level rises.


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