Elmgreen and Dragset launched the useless bodies exhibition at Fondazione Prada in Milan to visit during the Milan design week 2022.
Michael Elmegree (born in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born in Norway) have been working together as an artist duo since 1995. The artists now present an exhibition in Milan – which will be available until the 22nd of this year –the exhibition entitled “Useless Bodies?” selects sculptural works by the duo of artists in one of the foundation’s most ambitious thematic investigations to date. The show unfolds in four spaces conveying a series of different environments and atmospheres, themes, and aesthetics. Overall, the exhibition makes up a physical presence in an increasingly digitized world – the body is thus losing its centrality and importance. In this virtue, the artists wanted to emphasize the useless bodies.
The artists in question are adamant that our body is our agent of existence and that life would be impossible without it.
However, long ago, our physical appearance has become more of a liability than a benefit. Here, we are seen as consumers and our bodies as products, the body’s position has shifted to that of a product, with Big Tech collecting and selling our data.
With the publicly available knowledge surrounding the harvesting of data from tech companies being so inane, and the rapidly accelerating rate at which such companies are expanding into every aspect of our lives, it does sometimes feel a little scary to think about our bodies’ future role.’ Says Elmgreen and Dragset.
Useless bodies: Let’s take a look at the installations.
The exhibition of useless bodies followed a path that begins at the Fondazione Prada Podium, at the Nord gallery, at the Cisterna, and, finally, at outdoor spaces. Throughout the exhibition, we can see differences in how artists have mediated the male body through the practice of sculpture over the centuries.
The second floor has been turned into a massive landscape of abandoned workplaces that investigated the body’s changing position in the workplace. A repetitive pattern of seemingly infinite rows of workstations evokes dystopian situations in the immersive piece.
The public is free to wander through the space and explore the clinically designed objects, where they find a human body placed in the middle of a mortuary refrigerator. Visitors to this gallery also find a futuristic view of a domestic environment of a bunker, a spaceship, and a science lab. This exposition makes viewers question how they live in their own homes, especially with so much technology.
Inside the cistern, artists analyzed industries such as well-being, leisure, and health (primarily how they work with the ideas of the body, which has been changing). The building’s rooms are transformed into an abandoned spa setting with an abandoned swimming pool and changing room. In the central space, a new work titled “What’s Left?” explores the role of the body as a political actor or instrument of social change.
Finally, the outdoor spaces house a series of sculptures that analyze human bodies and how they are seen in the public sphere. With minor changes such as familiar and everyday objects, the artists’ works require a reorganization of human thinking about the human body.
‘Useless Bodies?’, which is conceived as a thematic extension of the show, with multiple perspectives from over 35 authors, addressing our changing perceptions of the body and its status today.