15 February 2006
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset - The Welfare Show
& Ingar Dragset :
The Welfare Show
26 January -
26 February 2006
Yesterday I went to the Serpentine Gallery to see the Welfare show by Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. This is an altogether curious show. The gallery has been set up as a series of corridors. One wonders past exhibits such as a group of security guard all sitting in one corridor. What are they securing? Why are they there. There is a glass window into a room with a baggage carousel with one piece of luggage from a flight from Ibiza to Luton going round and round on it.
There is a row of chairs and one of those ticket machines that spits out numbers. Except that the electronic display is showing zero. There are a number of discarded tickets around the floor.
There is a hospital corridor with a couple of beds in it (one occupied by a patient) that is a lot cleaner than most hospitals I have been in.
There is a lap dancers pole with tacky flashing lights around it. On top of the lapdancers podium is a mop and bucket. All rather obvious symbolism for the typical menial jobs that women have in modern day society.
And really that it my problem with this whole show. Isn't it all rather obvious? So modern life is difficult, boring, bureaucratic. Tell us something we don't know. Do I really want to go to an art gallery to see scenes that I could see queueing up for a passport etc. I go to an art gallery to see something that releases me from my modern humdrum existence, not which reminds me of it.
I wasn't inspired by this show. It isn't that different. It didn't say anything to me that I didn't know already.
Make your own mind up though.
This is what the gallery say:
"What is the welfare state? What has caused its decline? How socially responsible has it been? The Welfare Show by artists Michael Elmgreen (born 1961, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969, Norway) uses sculptures, installations and an encyclopaedic style catalogue to focus attention on welfare systems in the Western world. Within this context, visitors are invited to consider such concepts as power, economic disparity, health care, immigration, the police state, and the social role of art.
For more than a decade, the artists have been collaborating to create sculptures and installations that challenge conventional notions of institutions and public spaces within contemporary society. Since 1997, their Powerless Structures series of works has investigated how sites such as prisons, social security offices, hospitals, museums, galleries and parks exercise social control.
The artists live and work in Berlin and have had many international exhibitions, including the Untitled series at Tate Modern and Utopia Station at the 50th Venice Biennale, both 2003. They were nominated for the HUGO BOSS PRIZE, 2000, and received Germany’s Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst, 2002.
Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset: The Welfare Show is initiated by Bergen Kunsthall, Norway and produced in collaboration between Bergen Kunsthall; Bawag Foundation, Vienna; The Power Plant, Toronto; and the Serpentine Gallery, London."