In their first solo exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset continue their investigation of urban and spatial structures in relation to social issues and the art market. Since 1997, the artists have presented a great number of architectural and sculptural installations in an ongoing series of works entitled ‘Powerless Structures.’
For the Istanbul Biennial, which opened September 21st, the artist duo constructed a full-scale model of a typical Modernist Kunsthall descending into the ground while located outdoor among ancient ruins. In1998, they dug down a whole gallery in the museum park of Reykjavik in Iceland. Earlier this year, Elmgreen & Dragset altered the physical features of the white cube exhibition hall of Portikus in Frankfurt by curving the floor in its full length upwards and bending the skylight downwards so as to mirror the floor. But the works by Elmgreen & Dragset can also take the format of small and humorous interventions. At last year’s Armory Art Fair in New York the artists discreetly installed a placard at the entrance, warning visitors that 7 pickpockets had been invited for the art fair.
Opening Soon / Powerless Structures, Fig 242 is a commentary on the mediating role that art galleries have played in reshaping and transforming the urban landscape of the city. Throughout the last decade, galleries have been moving into many of the city’s lowest rent neighborhoods, and effectively contributing to the gentrification of these areas. Of course, the cycle subsequently comes around, so that the galleries find it necessary to leave these same neighborhoods due to increasingly high rents or other economic concerns. Fashion shops or chain stores then take over and push the real estate values even higher. In New York’s SoHo we saw such changes. Similar changes have taken place in the East End of London, in Mitte in Berlin and the pattern seems to repeat itself in New York’s Chelsea, where the first fashion brands have already opened their stores. As such, the outlook for the art market leaves little doubt that several of Chelsea’s 170 galleries won’t survive the imminent recession. By covering up the windows of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and having a sign announcing that Prada will open soon (at the same time a reference to the destiny of former Guggenheim Soho space) Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset deliver an ironic statement on "still being part of the game."