Writing for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Elmgreen & Dragset: Changing Subjects
The FLAG Arts Foundation

Elgreen & Dragset, Watching, 2016

The Chelsea Arts Tower is a twenty-story high-rise in the heart of one of the world’s biggest art districts. Entering felt like walking into an expensive apartment building. Going up to the ninth floor to see Elmgreen & Dragset’s show, Changing Subjects at the FLAG Arts Foundation, triggered different feelings than I normally have while gallery hopping. The elevator doors opened to a well-lit area facing an ATM machine above a baby in a carrier. A security guard next to the elevator welcomed me and encouraged me to look closer.

Elmgreen & Dragset’s hyper-realistic sculptures populated the gallery space and extend out onto the terrace. A highly-polished stainless steel sculpture of a boy with binoculars looks out over the Hudson River as the clouds break reflecting bits of the blue sky and the city. Back inside, there was a sculpture of a young boy standing in his underwear and his mother’s high heels having just applied lipstick. Facing a mirror, he can see his reflection and the wall of a morgue with one of the cold chamber drawers pulled out holding a body.

After leaving, I found myself thinking about these sculptures more and more. The appeal of these objects as immediately identifiable betrays their intimacy. The ATM with abandoned child; the young boy in front of the mirror; the lifeguard scanning the horizon leaning out of his chair moments before leaping into action; even the pairs of pants resting on the floor next to one another all present moments of voyeurism for the viewer that induce curiosity. These sculptures represent moments of transition, defining moments in the assumed lives of these hyper-realistic figures. They give us just enough to wonder what could have been happening before and what will happen next.