Elmgreen & Dragset Interview: Short Story


“It’s an illusion that it is only up to you if you can make it or not,” say the commended Berlin-based artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset in this exclusive video. Watch them talk about their tennis court installation ‘Short Story’ (2020), which captures the charged moment ensuing a defeat in a match between two boys.

There are three characters in the installation ‘Short Story’: an elderly gentleman half-asleep in a wheelchair, a skinny boy who has lost the tennis game, and the match-winner – a bigger “and more posh-looking” boy. “One has lost, one has won, but they both seem rather unhappy somehow. There’s a lot about winning in our society, to be the best one, but this idea of winning is maybe not always the best position to be in,” says Dragset. Ironically, winning and losing, he continues, are equally strong feelings: “It’s about feeling alive.” Elmgreen adds that the situation makes you wonder if it was a fair game due to the discrepancy in the sizes of the boys: “These moments can also be what is kind of creating your whole life… That little childhood moment in your life might be the factor that determines how your life will be later on…” Moreover, Dragset explains how they see the tennis court as a sort of painting: the white stripes on an orange-brown background – almost like a “grid-like, modernist painting” – as well as a portrait of the two boys on opposite sides of the net.

Elmgreen & Dragset (Michael Elmgreen, b. 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark and Ingar Dragset, b. 1969 in Trondheim, Norway) have collaborated as an artist duo since 1995. In their artistic practice, they aim to re-contextualise or alter the conditions for how we, as an audience, perceive sculptural objects – pools are emptied and sinks dysfunctional. The artists have held numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, and Whitechapel Gallery in London. Their work has been included in biennials such as in Bangkok, Venice and Gwangju, and in 2017 they curated the Istanbul Biennial. Works by the artist duo can be found in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Tel Aviv, among others. They have also realised several public sculptures placed around the world, such as the installation Prada Marfa (2005) in the Chihuahua Desert in Texas, and the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime (2008) in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. In 2002, Elmgreen & Dragset were awarded the Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst, and in 2020 they received the B. Z.-Kulturpreis. For more see: http://www.elmgreen-dragset.com/

Elmgreen & Dragset were interviewed by Felix von Boehm in connection with the installation ‘Short Story’ at König Galerie in Berlin (May-August 2020), which sets the stage for a tennis match between two boys. For more see: https://www.koeniggalerie.com/exhibitions/28356/short-story/

Camera: Niclas Reed Middleton

Edited by Nica Hoffschrör

Produced by Art/Beats

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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