A luxury Prada boutique stands in the middle of the Texan desert, near Marfa, and is sealed so that no one can ever enter.
The port of Elsingore, a Danish city where Shakespeare set the glorious Hamlet, houses Han, a shiny male version of Copenhagen’s iconic Little Mermaid sculpture. In the octagonal area of the Milanese Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a white Fiat car springs out of the mosaic flooring. It looks like the vehicle has just re-surfaced from an imaginary trip to the core of the Earth.
Although these incredible stories might sound unlikely, they are all true. Each of them are grandiose installations by Scandinavian artist-duo Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, currently exhibiting in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (until January 2, 2014). In collaboration with Milanese gallery Massimo De Carlo, yoox.com presents Italian Centimeters: an art multiple by Elmgreen & Dragset made in an edition of 90 works, with a signed and numbered tag. The piece is a metal ruler, designed by the artists as a sharp-humored comment on a typically Italian trait: “Why do Italians always bump into cars while parallel parking?”
The artists, who have worked as a duo since 1995, live in between Berlin and London. They are known for transforming urban spaces into ephemeral structures, loading them with deep levels of meaning and inviting observers to reflect on the uncertainty of the modern world. With their subversive humor, Elmgreen and Dragset have redesigned the way contemporary art is presented and enjoyed. Their works have a lot in common with illusionism; they are discrete and spectacular at the same time.
The duo loves to surprise fans with the deconstruction of spaces and clichés. At first glance, Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, originally built to exhibit an equestrian statue of William IV, hosts a bronze courser mounted by an intrepid captain. However, the captain is a giant young boy, riding a rocking horse. The statue, one of the most iconic works by Elmgreen and Dragset, teaches a wise lesson. “Boys grow up still thinking they need to be a hero,” explains Elmgreen. “Trafalgar Square is a symbol of that. It is so masculine. We are talking about a different kind of masculinity. They can still be heroes, but in a more fragile way.”
Above. Elmgreen & Dragset - How Are You Today?, Courtesy Massimo De Carlo, Milano/London