Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset (Danish Michael Elmgreen and Norweigan Ingar Dragset) exhibit widely across the globe, and have shows lined up in Portugal, France, the UK and the USA this year and next. Within the region however, they made an impact in 2017 as the Istanbul Biennial’s curators, where they used the theme, A Good Neighbour, as a metaphor to address the tense political and human rights concerns throughout Turkey. Known for a body of work that meets at the intersection of art, architecture and design, their installations and performances tackle “powerless structures”—Foucault’s notion that behavioural patterns within structures restrict human action and activity. Come 15 October, in collaboration with French gallery Perrotin, Elmgreen & Dragset will present a major installation for Parisian contemporary art fair FIAC at Place Vendôme entitled To Whom It May Concern.
The in-situ, carte blanche honor given to previous artists such as Jaume Plensa, Paul McCarthy and Udo Rondinone will see the duo create a work featuring 100 red starfish dispersed across the square, referencing minimal land art. “The starfish installation at Place Vendôme differs from the usual vertical and monumental public sculptures as it consists of 100 bronze pieces that are not bigger than real-life starfish,” explain the duo. |The installation will almost look as though this prominent square in the middle of Paris had been flooded and the starfish were left behind as evidence. We have previously exhibited sculptures at significant plazas like Trafalgar Square and Rockefeller Plaza, and it is important to keep in mind that the large crowds of people visiting such public places might not be a trained art audience, so you need to make a statement that’s accessible, something that visitors who come from many different backgrounds can relate to in one way or another. That doesn’t mean that you need to be populist or superficial, but it is urgent not to be too introverted or to fill the work with codes that can only be understood by those who have a profound insight into contemporary art."
Elmgreen & Dragset further outline that starfish, according to legend, are considered reflections of stars in the sky on the ocean floor. “Even though these creatures do not have brains, they can move and sense the world around them through instincts and reflexes. But these mysterious and magical creatures have over the last decades become threatened due to environmental pollution,” they note. “It is as if rising water has engulfed the very center of Paris, leaving red starfish spread around the square in its wake – a nod to the Paris Climate Agreement and its challenges. The 100 red starfish remind us not only of the urgency of change today, but they also, through their ability to regenerate and survive even radical amputations, symbolise hope for regrowth and new living modes.”
The public installation has already been acquired by the Dragonfly Collection, and will tour the Domaine des Etangs in Massignac following FIAC’s 18-21 October run. In addition, Perrotin will host a solo exhibition of Elmgreen & Dragset’s works 13 October-22 December.