The art of Elmgreen and Dragset


Ganymede (Jockstrap) (2009).

Artist partners Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset—Danish and Norwegian respectively—became better known to the British public this week (well, Londoners anyway…) when their Powerless Structures, Fig 101 was unveiled by Joanna Lumley in Trafalgar Square. The pair’s bronze boy on a rocking horse is their contribution to the series of works that temporarily occupy the square’s Fourth Plinth, a site originally intended to display an equestrian statue of William IV. Elmgreen & Dragset admit that their new piece is slightly camp but also say:

“One thing that is absolutely forbidden in the public realm is to show emotions and be fragile,” Elmgreen says. “That is something we wanted to touch upon in the square, where it’s all about power. The sculpture is not about pop culture issues, or what is in trend at the moment. You step outside the whole thing and try to speak with another voice.”

“It’s beyond that,” says Dragset. “It’s like daring to expose sides of yourself you’re not supposed to show. Like vulnerability. It is often on our minds at the moment. Dare to be uncool!” (more)


 Jason (Briefs) (2009).

Rather more overtly camp are these photos of additions by the artists’ to statues by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844), amendments which lend an erotic frisson to cold marble. The Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen commendably hosted an exhibition of these photo prints last year, and have a page detailing Elmgreen & Dragset’s intentions.

Powerless Structures, Fig 101, will be on display in Trafalgar Square throughout the year.


Mercury (Socks) (2009).

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