‘This Is How We Bite Our Tongue is the first major solo exhibition of Elmgreen & Dragset in the United Kingdom. The exhibition, which is based on the duo’s more than 20-year-long practice, is presented in the three large halls of the main gallery. It contains a site-specific installation, six new sculptures and twenty-nine older works. The exhibition is open from 27 September 2018 to 13 January 2019.

This Is How We Bite Our Tongue

The largest exhibition hall is transformed into a large-scale installation. The installation draws on Elmgreen & Dragset’s fascination with abandoned public spaces and on inspiration from Vilhelm Hammershøi, who imbued his paintings of empty rooms and deserted public squares with a sense of melancholy and alienation. In the installation Elmgreen & Dragset question the demographic and socioeconomic changes in London’s East End, which pushes out underprivileged groups in favour of the wealthy and well connected.

Elmgreen & Dragset say about the exhibition: ‘This is How We Bite Our Tongue is an exhibition about emotions held inside, not said out loud. It is about withdrawal and resignation, about absence and impermanence, the feeling of loss, of losing agency as well as community. But it is also about reconciliation and resilience.’

Institutional critique

The exhibition revolves around the key themes in Elmgreen & Dragset’s practice. Their works contain an institutional critique and address social polices and the issues of responsibility. In the top exhibition hall, the duo pays homage to artists who have inspired them. The installation The Bottle and the Book celebrates the artist Mark Morrisroe. The piece consists of a table and a chair, a diary and a bottle of whiskey. It invites visitors to sit down and have a drink, in the middle of the exhibition. Other works debate the concept of masculinity, identity and sexual/gender politics.

Exhibition catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue that describes the themes and ideas that have been focal points for the duo’s practice. The catalogue features texts by several contributors, including Ann Lui, assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Laura Smith, curator at the Whitechapel Gallery. It also features an interview of Elmgreen & Dragset by gallery director Iwona Blazwick as well as photographic documentation of the site-specific installation and the other exhibits.

About Elmgreen & Dragset

Elmgreen & Dragset are Danish Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961) and Norwegian Ingar Dragset (b. 1969). They have worked together since 1995 and are based today in Berlin. Elmgreen & Dragset’s work is typically manifested in the form of installations, performances and architecture. The duo has held numerous international solo exhibitions, for example at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and at the SMK, the Danish National Gallery.