Experience Tomorrow at the V&A
Tomorrow – Elmgreen & Dragset at the V&A in partnership with Alix Partners
Recently the V&A commissioned two contemporary artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, with Alix Partners, to bring an installation piece to the V&A unlike anything they’ve put on previously. Elmgreen & Dragset take over five rooms from the V&A to bring to life an unrealised film written by the two artists.
Tomorrow’ features five of the V&A rooms, outfitted and redesigned to become the apartment of a fictional, elderly, disillusioned architect,Norman Swann, who is in the process of selling his home. Elmgreen & Dragset were even able to put up genuine ‘for sale’ signs put outside the V&A, and have already received a number or perspective buyers about the rooms. Despite the fact the rooms are not actually for sale, but it all adds to the live performance art experience of the installation.
The idea behind the exhibition is that it is an open and interactive space, featuring objects from the V&A’s private collections as well as works created specifically for the exhibition by Elmgreen & Dragset. Everything was especially chosen by the artist duo to encapsulate aspects of Swann’s character. Visitors are invited to come and explore the apartment rooms, rifling through Norman Swann’s personal possessions, and learn to story of his life through first-hand exploration. The juxtaposition of objects is intended to allow the visitors to formulate their own opinion about who Swann is.
I went through the exhibition without much foreknowledge, but I was immediately very drawn to the books on display in Swann’s study. There were a number of books on architecture, sexuality, film, poetry, and the apparent connections between them. I spent most of my time reading through the books I found, relating them to my own interests and considering what type of person Swann could be, what he found most intriguing about the world, and how it lead him to selling his home. Elmgreen & Dragset exhibition did exactly what it was intended to do and had literally drawn me into the story, while at the same time bringing the story to life.
The installation offers a unique combination of a passive exhibition space and live performance art, but where the viewers are a part of the experience- not to mention the various objects on display are historical and artistic artefacts worth seeing in any context.
The museum opens at the V&A from 1 October 2013 – 2 January 2014 daily from 10:00-17:45, and until 22:00 every Friday. Go to their site for any further information about the exhibition. And be sure to visit the online shop to get your hands on Elmgreen & Dragset’s book about their previous exhibitions.
Installation images Courtesy the artists and Victoria Miro
© Elmgreen & Dragset
Photography Anders Sune Berg
Portrait of Elmgreen & Dragset
© V&A Images
For Sale sign
Copyright V&A images