25 Years of Elmgreen & Dragset


Galleri Nicolai Wallner congratulates Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset on the 25th anniversary of their collaboration as artist-duo Elmgreen & Dragset.

Since 1995, Elmgreen & Dragset have blurred lines that divide our public and private personas. Investigating how we shift, perform and build our identities depending on varying contexts, the duo have cleverly unpacked intimate subjects such as gender, sexuality, relationships, the balance of power, and the hierarchy of social constructs and administrative systems. There is something subversive yet encompassing about their works, as they create sculpture and immersive installations which subtly flip the script while remaining open enough to incorporate our own individual experiences.

Among some of the most poignant of their works, are those that focus on the very intricate dynamics that exist in relationships, both romantic and otherwise, and how these dynamics in turn play out in other social arenas.

For more information regarding their notable twenty-five year career, please contact the gallery.



Over a period of twelve hours, Elmgreen & Dragset repeatedly painted the walls of a standard exhibition space and then hosed them down to start over again, underlining the invisible labour found in gallery and institutional spaces as well as the invisible labour inherent in an artist’s practice.



Elmgreen & Dragset
Powerless Structures, Fig. 15 (12 Hours of White Paint) (1997)




Elmgreen & Dragset
Couple, Fig. 25 (2017)
MDF, PVC, aluminum, stainless steel
220.3 x 52 x 32 cm each


With Couple, Fig. 25, the duo mounted a set of diving board on a wall, standing erect, side by side. Taking them out of the context of the swimming pool and going one step further by placing them in a way where they cannot be used at all, their functionality and their purpose is destroyed.


In what could easily be a metaphor for what happens in our more intimate relationships, this subtle yet powerful action renders them useless, while at the same time creates a new perspective through which we are able to see them as something different. By asking us to view them as simple objects, they are transformed into something more sculptural and definitive.


The abstract motif that is unique to each of the boards—evocative of minimal field painting—both compliments and contrasts. As they stand side by side, their very similar nature allows the few differences between them to be augmented, a statement that would again not be out of place in describing a union between two people. The rigidity of the newly made sculptures, coupled with the idea of their pairing creates a tension which ultimately reflects back on to our own selves and our private narratives.




Elmgreen & Dragset
Powerless Structures, Fig. 19 (Jeans) (1998)
Calvin Klein underwear, jeans
Dimensions variable
Edition of 5 (+2 AP)



Elmgreen & Dragset
Boy Scout (2014)
Metal, paint, electrical fixtures, lights, textile, foam
188 x 207 x 77 cm


A traditional bunk bed is placed within the exhibition space, with the top bunk flipped so that the beds face each other. The slender metal structure of the bed, as well as the inability to use the top bunk, reduces its functionalism to an almost abstract geometry. Exploring the powerful symbolisms tied up in the bunk bed, the work hints at ideas of sexuality, learned behaviour and social conventions.


As such, the work understands sexuality as a socially constructed phenomenon, with each new generation learning from what has already come to pass. The bunk bed, with its connotation of school dormitories and army barracks, suggests a type of sexuality that plays with the boundaries between the public and the private. It suggests a space that is both intimate, yet out in the open for everyone to see. This juxtaposition is coupled with the anonymity of the bed’s occupants—their only trace is a visible imprint on each pillow—suggests a loss, as well as the passage of time, echoing the idea of teachings passed on.



carrie emberlyn