Elmgreen & Dragset | it's not what you think | blueproject foundation, Barcelona, spain
König Galerie | 7.6.–27.10.2019
IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK
Elmgreen & Dragset
The Blueproject Foundation presents the solo exhibition “It's Not What You Think”, by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, which will be shown at Il Salotto from June 7 to October 27, 2019. “It’s Not What You Think” transforms Il Salotto into a different setting: an abandoned, underground boiler room with tubes crisscrossing the space. The artist duo continues their practice of altering art spaces by turning the white cube gallery room into a location that contrasts the discreet format in which contemporary art is normally presented. Industrial metal tubes of various sizes dominate the space, re-directing visitors’ movements as they must step over, bend under, or walk around the tubes in order to navigate the site. While the tubes’ pastel colors are colors that can be found in real-life industrial settings, they also correspond to the color tones of food pigments used to coat the pills in some of the latest generations of HIV medicines like Truvada, Atripla, Stribild and Isentress. These pastel colors might appear innocent, even inviting, like candy, camouflaging the toxicity of such medications. The various colors of the pills serve the purpose of indicating and distinguishing the different functions of each pill, not unlike the different colors of industrial tubes, whose color scheme signals if the tubes are used for drainage, steam, heating, or other purposes. Aesthetically, the installation draws on early Minimalist works by artists such as Michael Asher and Charlotte Posenenske, creating a bodily reference with the means of simple architectural elements. The metal tubes appear to penetrate the floor, walls and support columns, seemingly extending beyond the gallery space itself, as if they were the veins of an organism. Everything in the exhibition “It’s Not What You Think” is based on sets of uncertainties in which nothing is as it appears at first glance. The boiler room is of course just a fiction: the tubes are dysfunctional and the boiler room itself serves as a metaphor for the body as both a biological and cultural product. Within the installation, other works by Elmgreen & Dragset imply traces of human activities with ambiguous narratives. A car seat cast in bronze—titled I must make amends (2019), after the lyrics of Janis Joplin’s song Mercedes Benz—sits abandoned in the space as a leftover, now used as a chair by whoever could be the caretaker of this boiler room. Next to it, After Francis Bacon (2014), combines two readymades: a used tractor tire and a dirty boiler suit. In a nearby corner, one finds a burned-down candle—carved in marble—next to a mattress and some books, which comprise the set for the performance Anywhere (2019). The melancholic atmosphere in this non-functional boiler room installation at once reflects on a postindustrial reality in which we feel bodily estranged from spaces that were previously based on manual labor, and acts as a reminder of how our bodies themselves have now been reduced from their original role as the core of production in our society to becoming just consumer targets for the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries.