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Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset: Celebrity – The One & The Many. ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art

November 9, 2010

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, the artists who became famous for their Prada store in Marfa and their “dead collector in swimming pool“-installation at the Venice Biennale 2009, conceived two large-scale installations for the ZKM, analyzing the celebrity culture of today.

With Elmgren & Dragset’s Celebrity – The One & The Many, showing from November 2010 to March 2011, the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art in Karlsruhe has organized the first large-scale museum solo-exhibition by Elmgreen & Dragset in Germany. The show consists of two installations, created especially for the ZKM’s unique architecture: a four-story residential tower block and what appears to be a neoclassical ballroom.

The high-rise residential building in the first atrium of the ZKM cannot be entered, but it is possible for the viewer to look into the numerous apartments. The museum’s second atrium has been transformed into a ballroom annexed to which is a fictive hall where a VIP party is in full swing. One cannot participate in the party, what’s happening within can only be imagined by the silhouette cast on the frosted glass panes of the closed doors.

Celebrity – The One & The Many at ZKM is part of an exhibition trilogy by Elmgreen & Dragset that started 2006 with The Welfare Show at the Serpentine Gallery in London and also includes Elmgreen & Dragset’s installation The Collectors for the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2009.

The exhibition has been curated by Andreas F. Beitin.

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset: Celebrity – The One & the Many. ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (Museum fur Neue Kunst), Karlsruhe / Germany. Opening reception, November 6, 2010.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

“The exhibition Celebrity – The One & the Many, by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset on show at the ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art investigates various aspects of socio-cultural milieu. This artistic presentation includes a staging of a series of different yet interwoven narratives which, by using randomly positioned stage lights, are aimed at directing attention towards numerous social, political, and artistic aspects. Among others, Celebrity emphasizes the relationship between “the one and the many,” the one being a prominent personality, an icon, an a-list type, and the mass – that mass of “normal” people, and investigates the ways in which the lifestyle of the rich and famous is mediated to a broad public by way of staged and affected realities. Notoriously, distortions, rumors, gossip, and half-truths play a role in the stories of the glamour world, eliciting either dream-worlds or scandals.

The exhibition visitor is barred from the exclusive society only able to hear the noises of the excessive party taking place within. Contrasts such as poverty and wealth, oppressive everydayness and glamour run through the exhibition’s installations as common thread. Thus the visitor becomes a performative element for those other visitors observing from above, from the higher floors of the museum, and hence become part of the installation in the sense of an extended concept of sculpture.”

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