elmgreen & dragset: 'the collectors' at the nordic pavilion
original content
jun 12, 2009
elmgreen & dragset: 'the collectors' at the nordic pavilion



the mysterious case of mr. B, the imaginary owner of the house, found floating in the pool
image © designboom

for the first time in the history of the venice art biennale, two national pavilions,
the danish and the nordic, come together to present one single exhibition entitled,
‘the collectors’.

elmgreen and dragset‘s imaginary collection has transformed the nordic pavilion
into a domestic living space, which is inhibited by a gay collector, mr. B.
among pieces of scandinavian furniture, the intimate home includes cult works,
homosexual cultural icons and young people sitting on easy chairs waiting
for an imaginary lover to arrive.

‘the collectors’ offers an allegorical stage set where two interrelated fictional
portraits are presented, each in connection to one of the pavilions.
through this setting the particular and personal individuals portrayed is set in
contrast to the wider, open landscape of the venice biennale, in an exploration of the
increasingly porous realms of the private and public space.



mr. B carefully took off his shoes and socks before plunging into the water
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the stark space of the nordic pavilion, decked out in scandinavian furniture and the artworks of well-known international
and emerging artists including ‘cubes (after sol lewitt)’, 1998 / 2008 at left, by henrik olesen.



mr. b’s love of art collecting is prominent



‘butterflies’ by han & him, 2009
a collection of swim wear of ex-lovers



the interior was uncluttered to bring focus to the artwork and furniture inside the space
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the homosexual drawings by tom of findland are showcased inside a closed display
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the bed is inset into the floor and has a television nearby playing a compilation of videos including 150 films,
all male mash up and the fall of communism as seen in gay pornography, 2009 (compiled by william e. jones)
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classic scandinavian designs are very present in the home
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FKK / naturists, 2008 by wolfgang tillmans hangs in the kitchen
c-print mounted on forex in artist’s frame
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‘desk job’, 2009 by simon fujiwara
desk, photos, documents, text
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the juxtaposition between the exterior of the house and the interior


ingar dragset (at right) with his team of young people sitting on the stairs
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‘the collectors’ goody bag
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the goody bag distributed for the danish and nordic pavilions contains a collection of items
which have been selected by the participating artists and invited writers,
and extends the theme of collecting into fields beyond those approached by the exhibition.
each of the items has been carefully preserved and includes: limited editions, books, a poster,
postcards and something that goes beyond the thinkable, a salame, contributed by
italian artist maurizio cattelan.


quotes on the back of the bag

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‘the collectors’ catalogue also functions as a calendar and can be considered an artist’s multiple
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the real cherry on top of ‘the collectors’, is a catalogue which has been produced
and sustained with the collaboration of fondazione nicola trussardi.
the catalogue can be conceived as a real artist’s multiple (functioning not only as the catalogue,
but a work of art).



inside the calendar, important dates have already been highlighted
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only the first 500 goodie bags contained a salame, which was contributed by maurizio cattelan



small little collector’s items such as a dice, notebooks and a lighter



a hankerchief and postcards are also a part of the goodies
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image © designboom



drawing of simon fujiwara’s large desk that sits in the nordic pavilion
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the contents list of the goody bag
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michael elmgreen and ingar dragset have been collaborating as an artist duo since 1995,
and have exhibited in art institutions around the world, including the tate modern, london,
museum für moderne kunst in frankfurt am main and the palais de tokyo, paris.

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