For autumn 2013 the Danish/Norwegian duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset (of boy-on-a-rocking-horse Fourth Plinth fame) are creating a site-specific installation in the V&A's former Textile Galleries. The exhibition is an elaborate installation of a grand domestic setting belonging to a fictional architect. Objects from the V&A's collection will be presented alongside artworks, furniture and every day items to create an unexpected encounter for the museum visitor – which is nothing less than we'd expect from artists who, previously, have installed a replica Prada store in the middle of a Texan desert and a life-size concrete housing estate in a German museum.
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This is an unusual exhibition where you are walking into a story - and you start off very sceptical that you will get involved. But as you wander around you get completely sucked in to the whole idea and end up really trying to understand the main character and his life. A unique and truly intriguing exhibition - just don't get the designers to do you a kitchen design.........really worth a visit.
Tonight I was privileged enough to be a part of the one-off event that allowed me to venture into Norman's apartment, rummage through his belongings and explore his life without interruption. This 'hands on' approach was a breath of fresh air from the V&A, being able to interact with artefacts while also being encouraged to seek out hidden gems made my visit all the more interesting. The atmosphere was enriched by a superb pianist and topped off the exhibit's curator giving an introduction and remaining on-hand to answer queries. Prosecco added to the occasion and I finally got to shake the hand of Ray, free screening legend! Well worth a visit.
I attended this as a Time Out card exclusive event. We were introduced by the exhibition's co-ordinator who explained the concept & some background details. It was a fascinating exhibition & it was fun to snoop through Norm's belongings & personal effects. The level of detail is astonishing & there are even authentic appearing household bills for this fictional man. There are also several original art works & it was intriguing trying to spot them- some were quite witty & they paid homage to the rocking horse which is their most famous work in Britain. All the rooms had very different atmospheres & personalities but there is a pervading sense of melancholy & loneliness throughout. As a medically trained person I was shocked & upset when I recognised the medication on the bedside table & the implications it meant for Norman. Amazing that a mythical man can evoke genuine emotion.
Scandinavian-borne, England- and Germany-based duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have created a masterpiece site-specific installation at the V&A. Commissioned to fill the former textile galleries, this series of rooms shows us the world of elderly architect Norman Swann. The rooms form the set for an as-yet-unmade film set on the eve of Swann’s tragic departure. The viewer is invited to walk through the rooms, perusing the contents and making connections as they go. A copy of the short script is distributed at the entrance to take with you and fill in the blanks. This complex and immersive work is like a much less threatening piece of promenade theatre. While you’re very much centre-stage, there isn’t that sinking feeling you’re about to be rudely accosted by a jobbing actor. The invigilators being in costume (and even in character) is a lovely touch, though. As fans of the V&A will know, the (former) textile galleries are terribly well hidden, on the third floor in a hidden corner. Accordingly, there’s no-one in this one because it’s so hard to find. The solitude makes it wonderfully atmospheric, but be prepared to ask for directions to get there.
For those new to performance installations this is a nice intro - the detailing work is quite remarkable, from the museum staff dressed up as butlers and maids to the surprising soundscape of a shower behind a closed door. Take your time moving through the rooms and don't hesitate to touch objects, read papers, and listen for sounds. There is a lot packed into a relatively small space. The overall effect is one of uncertainty, as you wonder where this family is off to next, amidst all their half-packed boxes. Free, so worth a look if you're at the museum.