Elmgreen & Dragset
Pregnant White Maid and Unitree A1 robot dog, 2017
Collection of Bancré dito, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of Perrotin
Photo Elmar Vestner
Elmgreen & Dragset
March 31–August 22, 2022
Fondazione Prada presents Useless Bodies?, an exhibition by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset taking place in Milan from March 31 to August 22, 2022.
Spanning more than 3,000 square meters, Useless Bodies? is one of the most ambitious thematic investigations realized by Fondazione Prada to date. Conceived for four gallery spaces and the courtyard of its Milan venue, the exhibition explores the present condition of the body in the post-industrial age in which it seems that our physical presence is losing its centrality or is even completely superfluous. This shift impacts every aspect of our lives: from our working conditions to our health, our interpersonal relationships, and the way we retain information. The exhibition Useless Bodies? also explores how we physically adapt to a world increasingly based on two-dimensional imagery, not least in the light of the current pandemic.
As stated by Elmgreen & Dragset, “our bodies are no longer the main agents of our existence. They don’t generate value in our societies’ advanced production methods as they did in the industrial era. One could claim our physical selves have even become more of an obstacle than an advantage. In the 19th century, the body was the producer of daily goods, whereas, in the 20th century, the body’s role became more that of the consumer. 20 years into the 21st century the status of the body is now that of the product—with our data gathered and sold by Big Tech. With the publicly available knowledge surrounding the harvesting of data from tech companies being so inane, and the rapidly accelerating rate at which such companies are expanding into every aspect of our lives, it does sometimes feel a little scary to think about our bodies’ future role.”
Perception of the body is an underlying theme that connects many aspects of the sculptural and performative work of Elmgreen & Dragset, who throughout their career have explored subjects such as growing up, intimacy, identity, different modes of living and how we navigate the public sphere.
Following the exhibition path from the Podium, to the Nord gallery, to the Cisterna, the audience will encounter several immersive installations. The Milan premises of Fondazione Prada are transformed into a series of different universes, each with their own atmosphere, theme, and aesthetics.
Intimacy reveals something deeply human in us. We need each other on a practical level, which means having to trust strangers. It’s analogous to what I understand prayer requires and what writing poems requires: an openness to the unknown, coupled with trust, a belief that we won’t be hurt. It’s at once akin to and the same as devotion. —Carl Phillips
The RISD Museum’s 16th issue of Manual touches on the bonds of intimacy and its many expressions. This issue complements the exhibition Any distance between us, co-curated by Stephen Truax and Dominic Molon, on view at the RISD Museum through March 13, 2022.
From the Files
Gina Borromeo probes love and death in an ancient Greek alabastron
Judith Tannenbaum reencounters a series of photographs of two women dancing
Artists on Art
Christopher K. Ho and Troy Richards open up The Book of Ours
Matt Garza meditates on an untitled portrait of a same-sex couple
MariNaomi and Wai Yee Chiong get cozy with Kunisada’s Bed of Awakening: Nocturnal Pillow Talk
Diane Seuss and Angela Dufresne bond with Lydia (1776)
Laurie Simmons and Marisa Angell Brown embrace the complications of Eleanor, Chicago, 1949
Nafis M. White and Ahmari Benton join forces over Hair Necklace 4 (Chain)
Familiar connections and passionate flings from across the museum’s collection
Stephen Truax lovingly documents the lineage of recent queer figurative painting in Any distance between us
Vanessa and Carl Jennings sing a little lullaby to a Kiowa cradleboard
Dominic Molon spends time with Annika von Hausswolff’s Where everything begins and ends #2
Jessica Urick navigates conservation’s one-way intimacy
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