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“Elmgreen & Dragset Landscapes" opens today at Pace Gallery Geneva

Pace announces Elmgreen & Dragset’s first exhibition at its Geneva gallery, featuring a mix of new and recent work that employs the artist duo’s signature use of surreal qualities and the absurd to comment on nature and our place within it.


 Elmgreen & Dragset’s

 Elmgreen & Dragset, Still Life (Blackbird) 2024 © Elmgreen & Dragset


Set directly on its shore, Lake Geneva acts as a site-specific parallel to the works in the exhibition, inviting the viewer’s reflection. The show will incorporate installation and sculptures—one of which is enlivened by animatronic technology—that are imbued with an enigmatic pathos that has become emblematic of Elmgreen & Dragset’s oeuvre.


As the backdrop for their presentation, Elmgreen & Dragset chose a quotation by the late Danish poet Inger Christensen:


A desert can be so desolate that nobody knows it exists.


Printed on the gallery’s rear wall, the sentence hovers in the sky above a desert, setting the scene for the artists’ exploration into landscapes that are more emotional than physical. The vast horizon looks like a still from a road trip movie.


Forming a rhythmic structural base to the exhibition, five street signs stand evenly spaced in front of the billboard-like print, almost resembling a cluster of trees. While their shapes are familiar and universal—circles, squares, and triangles—they have no instructions, no warnings, or directions. The upper panel of each sign depicts clouds on a blue sky, whereas the lower panels are made of mirror-polished steel, reflecting the gallery and the visitors. This reflection of the space turns the signs into chameleons; they become their surroundings, they become us. We are left to find our own way.


Opposite the signs, two hands made of white lacquered bronze protrude from the wall, holding a small blackbird. Upon closer inspection, viewers will notice the bird’s subtle, nearly imperceptible, breathing. It is a scene of fragility—perhaps a child trying to save a small dying creature.


Next to the reception desk stand a pair of green rainboots. Perforated with circular holes and cast in bronze, they provide no protection from rain.


Towards the entrance of the gallery, visitors will encounter two further artworks. A realistic figure of a boy concentrates on piecing a puzzle together. It seems as if the finished puzzle will also reveal a blue sky with clouds. Not far from the boy, a small bird’s nest sits inside a museum vitrine. Within the nest lies a tiny book entitled “How to Become a Bird.”


The slightly surreal imagery in many of these artworks is a familiar feature of Elmgreen & Dragset’s practice. Since their first sculpture, a diving board piercing through the panoramic window of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Powerless Structures, Fig. 11,1997), they have created numerous works that offer viewers an opportunity to experience everyday objects in new and often uncanny ways. Many might know the artist duo’s well-known work, Prada Marfa (2005), a fully stocked but permanently closed luxury goods boutique located in the middle of the West Texan desert.


Before he became a visual artist, Michael Elmgreen wrote the following poem:


While birds are crossing the line

between mountain and sky

You stand on the soil onsoil so firmly pressed

because home is

what you were tolds

hould be solid

You don’t turn around

Because home is

what you were told

while birds are crossing

Home is the place you left

 

Elmgreen & Dragset Landscapes


Date: May 23 – Aug 10, 2024

Venue: Pace Gallery Geneva

(Quai des Bergues 15-17, 1201, Geneva)

Opening Hours: 10:00-18:00, Tuesday to Saturday


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