"THE OLD WORLD"
隔壁展廳的焦點是另一雕像《He》（2013年）──丹麥美人魚像的男性化身。它安 坐着望向畫廊17樓窗外的天空，仿佛嚮往著融入香港繁忙的都市生活。雕像對面擺有《Heritage》（2014年），一個供法官使用的假髮，代表今天香 港法庭仍沿襲的英國殖民地傳統。然而，假髮一旦離開了法官，放到展覽座上，便失去象徵意義，顯得軟弱無力。同樣，它那陳舊古怪的外貌，也因為脫離了原來語 境，令人更感到權力符號的意義時刻在變。
這次展覽的作品都離不開歐洲歷史文化。對於這個大課題，兩位藝術家之前亦曾以扭曲室內裝置來探討，最近的 例子有第五十三屆威尼斯雙年展的《The Collectors》展覽（2009年），以及在倫敦英國國立維多利亞與艾爾伯特博物館舉行的《Tomorrow》展覽（2013年）。兩人雖喜歡構思 各種情節，但敘事結構鬆散，需要觀者自行填補完成。作為展覽觀者，你會以為在步入展館前已有甚麼在發生，或有甚麼即將發生，而自己亦會參與一個已預先寫好 但未知的表演。
Elmgreen & Dragset 的展覽，往往令人聯想到電影拍攝場景。他們嘗試各種敘事模式，把時間拉長縮短，今次則會運用《THE OLD WORLD》的場地佈置，拍成一套黑白短片，展示藝術展覽如何因觀者而活起來。影片包含多個互相關連的小片段，當中有藝評人、收藏家、學生、清潔工等角 色，全由本地電影演員扮演。以展覽本身作為拍攝角度，影片會給予展品按各自觀點講述故事，把「展覽生命」忠實記錄下來。正如馬勒那未完成的交響曲， 《THE OLD WORLD》整個展覽亦可被視作一幅未完的圖畫，有待觀者去完成。貝浩登很榮幸為藝術家組合Elmgreen & Dragset在香港舉辦首次個展《THE OLD WORLD》，日期由4月3日至5月3日。屆時，畫廊除了展示作品，更會成為電影拍攝場地，讓展出的雕塑作為主角以故事串連起來，拍成一套電影。
是 次展覽，兩位藝術家會再探討在當前全球化下，歐洲歷史文化所面對的困境：在新世界秩序裏，歐洲傳統的價值何在？他們的雕塑既幽默又超現實，語境看似是香港 ──昔日大英帝國一員，今天的國際金融中心；但作品卻在運用各種經典的歐洲指涉。藝術家把畫廊的主展廳稍作改變，變成一個別具風格的家居空間，再以昏暗色 彩，營造歌德式氛圍。展廳裏的白色雕塑，配以黑色背景，對比鮮明，令人有置身世外，一切皆來自立體黑白相的感覺。
其中一件雕塑名為 《Unfinished Symphony》（2013年），暗指馬勒（Gustav Mahler）最終未能完成的遺作《第十號交響曲》。那看似未完成的特大石膏半身像，不僅是向這位偉大作曲家及古典音樂致敬，亦可被視為所謂「舊世界」當 前文化危機的隱喻，質疑昔日的宏大目光是否已不合時宜。牆邊一系列古老壁爐作品，似是暗示要重新審視直線的歷史書寫方式。這些壁爐都是新古典風格，部分有 鐘放在台架上，但指針卻停頓下來。其中一個爐頂叠了一堆書，全是白色木雕，無法翻開，而且白得恐怖。另一邊廂有《Powerless Structures, Fig. 101》的白色微小模型，是男童騎着搖馬的雕像。藝術家這件作品在2012至2013年度獲選為倫敦特拉法加廣場Fourth Plinth展品，影射歐洲驕矜自豪的騎士雕塑傳統 。最後，舊日的階級制度，在青銅作品《White Maid》（2014年）裏亦呼之欲出。這
Galerie Perrotin is pleased to present “THE OLD WORLD”, the first solo exhibition by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset in Hong Kong. From April 3 until May 3, visitors are invited to view “THE OLD WORLD”, which is both an elaborate film set and an exhibition in its own right. During the course of the exhibition, a film will be shot using the exhibited sculptures as protagonists, around whom the action evolves.
In “THE OLD WORLD”, Elmgreen & Dragset revisit their interest in the dilemma of European historical identity and cultural heritage in a contemporary globalized world. What significance do European traditions have within the new world order? In a humorous and surreal manner, Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculptural works play with classic European references in the context of Hong Kong, a former member of the British Empire, which today is a major financial powerhouse. The artists subtly transform the spatial features of the gallery’s main room into a stylized domestic setting, darkened to obtain a faux gothic ambience. The space shrinks into an otherworldly atmosphere with white sculptures tightly lit against a black background, as if the entire room and every object were taken out of a three dimensional black and white photograph.
One of the sculptures, “Unfinished Symphony” (2013), alludes to Gustav Mahler, whose final composition “Symphony No. 10” remained unfinished at the time of his death. An oversized and seemingly not yet completed plaster bust pays homage to the grandeur of the composer and classical music, but can also be read as a metaphor for the current cultural crises in what is considered “The Old World”. Has time simply run out for the epic visions of former times? A series of works presenting an exaggerated number of antique looking fireplaces placed along the walls, seems to indicate that the idea of a linear writing of history needs to be reconsidered. Upon these neoclassical style mantelpieces, one sees clocks whose hands are standing still. Upon one mantelpiece is placed a dramatic pile of books that cannot be opened, as they are made of carved wood and all painted ghostly white. Atop another one of the fireplaces sits a white miniature of “Powerless Structures, Fig. 101”, the artists’ Fourth Plinth Commission in London’s Trafalgar Square (2012 - 2013) – a boy astride a rocking horse – hinting at Europe’s vainglorious equestrian sculpture tradition. Finally the old class system is apparent in the work “White Maid” (2014), a life-size bronze sculpture painted matte white and depicting a Caucasian maid, dressed in the classic black and white maid uniform.
In the adjacent room the central object is “He”, a male counterpart to Denmark’s national symbol “The Little Mermaid”. “He” (2013) is positioned gazing out at the panoramic view of Hong Kong’s skyline through the gallery’s 17th floor window as if this figurative, poetic sculpture longs to be part of the busy city life happening outside. At the opposite end of the room is “Heritage” (2014), a judicial wig, also known as a peruke or periwig, a British colonial tradition still used in Hong Kong courthouses today. The wig is displayed on a stand, limp and emptied of its symbolic meaning when not worn by a judge; taken out of context, its old fashioned, odd design further pinpoints the ever-changing meaning of power symbols.
All of the works in “THE OLD WORLD“ deal with the monolithic concept of European history and culture, which the artists have previously examined through their staging of twisted domestic interiors, most recently in their exhibition “Tomorrow” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 2013 and in “The Collectors” at the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009. Elmgreen & Dragset often construct scenarios with a loose narrative thread to be filled in and completed by the audience. As a visitor to one of Elmgreen & Dragset’s shows, you often get the feeling that an activity has been going on prior to your arrival or is just about to happen – and that you as the audience will play a part in some sort of scripted, but as yet unknown, performance.
Many of Elmgreen & Dragset’s exhibitions are reminiscent of film sets. With their ongoing interest in extended and compressed time within different modes of narratives, the artists will utilize the exhibition setting of “THE OLD WORLD” to shoot a black and white short film. The film will show how an exhibition truly comes to life only through its visitors. With the help of professional actors from Hong Kong’s vital film industry, characters such as an art critic, a collector, a student and a cleaner will appear in a series of interconnected, small scenes. Filmed from the perspective of the exhibition itself, giving the artworks the opportunity to tell the story from their point of view, the film chronicles the “life of an exhibition”. Like Mahler’s unfinished symphony, the entire exhibition can be conceived of as an unfinished portrait, up to the audience to complete.