Artists Elmgreen & Dragset Create Fake Art Fair Stocked with Their Own Artwork

The artist's works will be displayed in fake booths, in the manner of an art fair.

Elmgreen & Dragset.
Photo Patrick McMullan.


Playful artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset are known for creating mysterious environments based on fictional characters. Their next project will create a pretend art fair within a museum. Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art will host a retrospective of their work, set within art fair-style booths.

It’s not the first time an artist has critiqued the commercial roundups that have become an essential part of the functioning of the art market. Houston-based artist Mark Flood staged the “Insider Art Fair” in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in 2014.

But while that project was set in the former Dia building, which at the time regularly hosted art fairs such as the Outsider Art Fair and Independent, Elmgreen & Dragset’s critique has an additional edge, set within a non-profit institution. With museums increasingly dependent on funding from galleries to support their exhibitions, and on shows that will be a hit at the box office, the Scandinavian artist pair’s fictitious art fair surely pokes fun at the museum sphere as well.

“A lot of the critique of art fairs is obvious and banal,” Elmgreen told the Art Newspaper, which reports that the show will take place January 23–April 17, 2016.

An installation by Elmgreen & Dragset at New York’s Galerie Perrotin earlier this year created a dwelling for an imagined failed architect. Their installation Prada Marfa, which is a pretend luxury store in the titular, remote Texas town, has suffered from vandalism more than once despite having received museum status after the state initially ruled the faux shop an illegal ad in 2013.

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