press release

It is a great pleasure to present 'Please, keep quiet!', a new installation by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. 'Please, keep quiet!' is a large-scale installation that effectively changes the room of the gallery to that of a hospital. Two doors mark the transition point between the daily activities of the gallery and the installation. Upon entering the visitors find themselves surrounded by folding screens, medical equipment and wax figures resembling different aged patients in hospital beds. Recreating the antiseptic and solemn atmosphere of the hospital, the installation 'Please, keep quiet!' draws on a minimalist aesthetics but offer at the same time a surprising realism.

The critique of the white cube as a special privileged exhibition space has been an artistic practise since 1960s. In recent years however, it has been a growing aim among younger artists to transform the white cube itself. Elmgreen and Dragset continue this by inquiring into the conditions affecting art spaces as public spaces- cunningly exposing the substantive blind spots.

The merging of the gallery with the hospital seems both seamless and highly confrontational. Aesthetically the sterile and depersonalised architecture and environment of the hospital find their parallels in the intended neutrality of the white cube exhibition space. The muted colours and the uncompromised surfaces are a prerequisite of the both. As made apparent by the installation, the way the two places function as public spaces are however very different. Contemplating art in the gallery is an enjoyable recreational practice whereas the hospital is only reluctantly entered either as patient or visitor. Functioning as a display case for the vicissitudes of the human body, the hospital offers little but a depressing insight in change and inconstancy. This passing is negated in the white cube that traditionally acts as a static environment conserving the physical state of the art and celebrating its transcendental qualities.

In the installation 'Please, keep quiet!' hospital and gallery act as interwoven opposites. As Elmgreen and Dragset fuse the transitory with the unchanging, a new ambiguous space arises. Neither gallery nor hospital, this new (an)aesthetic room is the lapse in between.

During the last years Elmgreen and Dragset have been working with intervention and modification of the white cube. 'Please, keep quiet!' is an extension of the ideas already present in the "Powerless Structures" series. The all encompassing scale of the new installation functions as a logical conclusion. Claus Robenhagen September 3 2003

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Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset - please keep quiet !