Elmgreen & Dragset are an artistic duo who are best known for the boy atop a rocking horse on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Their art often takes a unique approach to what’s important in life and they have a devilish sense of humour — most notable in their Milanese work ‘Short Cut’.
This mischievous streak continues in the downstairs gallery at Victoria Miro. Large sheets of paint have been carefully removed from the walls of museums and galleries across the world, from the Serpentine to the Guggenheim in New York, and are presented here in frames. As well as being a tribute to the background work of these institutions that often goes unnoticed, it’s also a ribbing of the uniformity that is often found in art galleries.
Upstairs is the exhibit that will get most of the attention, it’s a complete replica of a hayloft complete with hay bales and lashings of straw covering the floor. It’s an interactive display that encourages viewers to walk amongst the artworks and experience them when immersed in this artificial environment. On the wall in large letters is written ‘Kunst’ — the German word for art. A jest once again aimed at the naysayers that question modern art’s validity.
Sitting with his legs overhanging on the edge of a balcony is a model of a young boy with a book at his side. It all seems quite quaint and innocent until you spot the vulture watching him from his perch overhead. Then the mood becomes altogether more ominous and suddenly the child seems to be too close to the edge.
Elmgreen & Dragset have not lost any of their cynical and satirical bite and this is yet another opportunity to experience it.
Elmgreen & Dragset: Harvest is on display at Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW until 10 November. Admission is free.