elmgreen & dragset turn barcelona gallery into an abandoned, underground boiler room

elmgreen & dragset turn barcelona gallery into an abandoned, underground boiler room

artistic duo elmgreen & dragset have been working at the crossroads of art and architecture, and performance and installation, preoccupied with objects and their settings, and the discourse that can arise when those objects are radically decontextualized. for a solo exhibition titled it’s not what you think at barcelona’s il salotto, the artists have transformed the space into a different setting: an abandoned, underground boiler room with tubes crisscrossing the space.

elmgreen & dragset turn barcelona gallery into an abandoned, underground boiler room designboom
all images by roberto ruiz, courtesy of blueproject foundation



with it’s not what you think, elmgreen & dragset continue to alter art spaces by turning the art cube gallery room into a location that contrasts the discreet format in which contemporary art is normally presented. industrial metal tubes of various sizes take over the space, re-directing visitor’s movements as they must step over, bend under, or walk around the tubes in order to navigate the site.

elmgreen & dragset turn barcelona gallery into an abandoned, underground boiler room designboom



while the tubes’ pastel colors are colors that can be found in real-life industrial settings, they also correspond to the color tones of food pigments used to coat the pills in some of the latest generations of HIV medicines like truvada, atripla, stribild and isentress. these pastel colors might appear innocent, even inviting, like candy, camouflaging the toxicity of such medications. the various colors of the pills serve the purpose of indicating and distinguishing the different functions of each pill, not unlike the different colors of industrial tubes, whose color scheme signals if the tubes are used for drainage, steam, heating, or other purposes.

elmgreen & dragset turn barcelona gallery into an abandoned, underground boiler room designboom



aesthetically, the installation draws on early minimalist works by artists such as michael asher and charlotte posenenske, creating a bodily reference with the means of simple architectural elements. the metal tubes appear to penetrate the floor, walls and support columns, seemingly extending beyond the gallery space itself, as if they were the veins of an organism. everything in the exhibition it’s not what you think is based on sets of uncertainties in which nothing is as it appears at first glance. the boiler room is of course just a fiction: the tubes are dysfunctional and the boiler room itself serves as a metaphor for the body as both a biological and cultural product.



exhibition info:


it’s not what you think

by elmgreen & dragset 


blueproject foundation
c. princesa 57
08003 barcelona


opening hours:
from tuesday to friday, from 10 am to 8 pm
saturdays and sundays, from noon to 7 p

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