Thursday, November 17, 2016

Elmgreen & Dragset: "Changing Subjects" at The FLAG Art Foundation

The steel elevator of 545 West 25th Street opens on the 9th floor to an ATM machine, with a shockingly realistic baby in a zippered carry bag at its base. This sculpture work, titled Modern Moses, 2006, sends thoughts of shock and isolation through the viewer. These thoughts set the stage for the experience that is Changing Subjects.

The exhibition features both new and old works for the artist duo, made from 1998 to 2016. As you move through the gallery, you’ll see sculpture in all types of media, from an appropriated janitor’s mop and bucket to mirror-like chrome. The works together explore themes of identity and the idea of a “subject,” while simultaneously being able to stand alone and retain their depth of thought and meaning. 

The pieces caused me to reflect on my own identity, both physically and emotionally, through mirrored surfaces and emotional inquiries. Exiting onto the balcony of the gallery, a high-polished chrome sculpture of a man on a lifeguard’s stand sits looking out onto the Hudson river. The contoured, highly reflective surface of the piece, titled Watching, 2016, created an optical illusion in the afternoon light. The bending of the city skyline and your own reflection gives a bizarre sense of being watched, while the man depicted is himself watching.

Further inside the gallery is The Experiment, 2011. This hyper-realistic sculpture of a little boy is almost startling as one rounds the corner. His expression as he stands in front of a mirror in his mother’s heels and lipstick is one of an uncanny sadness, as if he's longing for something he knows he cannot have.  The themes of gender identity and sexuality explored during adolescence cause personal reflection within the viewer, as they may see themselves reflected in that same mirror.

Changing Subjects is an intriguing and absorbing exhibition that’s out to make you investigate your own identity. Its use of reflection in both a literal and metaphoric sense create a dynamic experience for the viewer. Try to define your own constantly Changing Subjects at The FLAG Art Foundation before it's gone.

The Experiment, 2011
Photo Credit @

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your review. It has a strong structure, that flows well. The way you take the audience through the experience of walking through the exhibit, while including the meanings and reflecting how they made you feel as a viewer made this a strong review.