Elmgreen & Dragset’s Upcoming Tel Aviv Museum Show To Tackle Politics with Subtlety

It's the artist duo's first solo show in Israel.

Elmgreen & Dragset The Future (2014) Photo: Courtesy of the artists
Elmgreen & Dragset For as Long as It Lasts (2016) and The Future (2014) Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elmgreen & Dragset For as Long as It Lasts (2016) and The Future (2014), cuts through the museum with a replica of the Berlin Wall.
Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elmgreen & Dragset are taking over the Tel Aviv Museum of Art with a sprawling survey show, their first in Israel. Opening on March 31, the Scandinavian artist duo’s exhibition, titled “Powerless Structures,” will be displayed across multiple galleries in the modern and contemporary art museum in a deliberately disjointed manner.

Like much of the duo’s work, the exhibition aims to upend traditional structures, be it political, financial, cultural, physical, or in this case, artistic, by challenging the tried and tested exhibition layout.

Elmgreen & Dragset Modern Moses (2006) Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elmgreen & Dragset Modern Moses (2006)
Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Spanning from 2006-2016, the works encompass the breadth of the artist duo’s creations, including pieces such as Wishing Well/Powerless Structures, Fig. 166 (2016), yet viewed in the context of the political reality in Israel, the exhibition takes on a new meaning.

In the museum’s lower level, a sign positioned next to a ladder and a bucket announces an upcoming exhibition of landscapes by Matisse. The misleading work, typical of the artists, unravels when the viewer finds a grey wall cutting through the galleries instead.

For as Long as It Lasts (2016), a full-size replica of a section of the Berlin Wall, is mounted in dialogue with the work The Future (2014), an installation showing a teenager wearing a hoodie and jeans sitting on a fire escape.

Elmgreen & Dragset Donation Box (2006) Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elmgreen & Dragset Donation Box (2006)
Photo: Courtesy of the artists

According to a release on the Tel Aviv Museum’s website, the artists address “questions of gender, individual and political identity, and the role of art in public life and in the economic-cultural reality of the global age.”

Emblematic of the duo’s signature style, visitors can also look forward to Donation Box (2006) a transparent box positioned by the museum entrance filled with personal items and a “Do Not Disturb” sign instead of the usual coins and bills. What’s more, the top of the box is sealed off.

Elmgreen & Dragset The Future (2014) Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elmgreen & Dragset The Future (2014)
Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Elsewhere, the artists portray the well-known biblical story in a contemporary context by depicting the abandoned Moses underneath a cash-machine in Modern Moses (2006), a tongue-in-cheek play on free-market modern society.

The artists will give a talk at the Tel Aviv museum to mark the occasion of their first exhibition in Israel on April 1.

“Powerless Structures” runs from March 31 – August 27, 2016 at Tel Aviv Museum, Israel.


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