The Nordic Pavilion, Giardini di Castello, Venice, Italy

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Press Release

For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale, two national pavilions will merge to present one single exhibition. The Danish Art Council’s Committee for International Visual Arts and the Nordic Committee are honoured to announce that the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset will curate both the Danish and the Nordic Pavilions at the Giardini, with a show titled ‘The Collectors’ stretching across the two neighbouring venues.

Together with a selection of invited international artists, Elmgreen & Dragset will transform the existing architecture of the two pavilions into domestic settings, and invite the audience to be guests in a homely ambience. Here, dining rooms and bedrooms, furniture, fireplaces, a stained glass skylight and the artworks nestled within the households will reveal the uncanny stories of various fictional inhabitants, their obsessive characters and their diverse lifestyles. The public will be guided on a tour by a real estate agent through a ‘For Sale’ Danish Pavilion, and will be told the story of the Ingmar Bergman-style family dramas that used to haunt this house. A long swimming pool will lead the visitors to the neighbouring Nordic Pavilion - a flamboyant bachelor’s pad. Inside they will encounter the domestic remnants of the mysterious Mister B, and be met by a group of young male hustlers sipping vodka tonics in an environment that could be a case study house motif taken from a David Hockney painting.

As the title of the show indicates, the curators will approach the topic of collecting, and the psychology behind the practice of expressing oneself through physical objects. Why do we gather items and surround ourselves with them in our every day lives’ Which mechanisms of desire trigger our selection’ The selected artworks, alongside the interior design, kitchenware, clothing and even a collection of flies, will compose the complex narratives of this double exhibition. Through the house décor and the collection of artworks, the garments in the wardrobes, the porcelain in the kitchen and the books in the library, the identities of the fictional inhabitants, their passions and melancholy, will emerge piece by piece.

‘The Collectors’ is not a group show in the conventional sense. The pavilions will undergo a radical reconstruction, and more than twenty artists and designers of all ages, ranging from established to emerging ones, will contribute to creating a different kind of exhibition format, one that will appear closer to a film set than a conventional art display. The curators aim to establish a unique atmosphere of intimacy with their staged exhibition - one that can run counter to the official spectacle and formal nature of the Biennale - and, in close collaboration with the participating artists and designers, they hope to circumvent all the usual competitive aspects of the larger art event.

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