Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset make art that is witty, funny and subversive – so it isn’t surprising that they’re facetious, ironic and playful when it comes to being interviewed, too. Today, they live separately in London and Berlin, but it wasn’t always like this; as for the first half of their career they lived together as a couple. Sleek met them at their studio in Neukölln, Berlin to discuss falling in love, breaking up and gaining acceptance as a duo. We picked our highlights from our interview with the duo, featured in Sleek 44.
On when they met
Ingar: We met in a gay disco called “After Dark” in Copenhagen…we were the only ones with post-punk haircuts and Dr. Marten boots, so it was easy to find each other.
On not being part of a scene
Ingar: We were never really good at being part of a scene. We were and are terrible at it.
On their different artistic approaches
Michael: It’s true that Ingar is more patient and more willing to wrestle with the process-aspect side of things than I am.
Ingar: But you’re very good at coming in and making a clear, cut throat decision when it comes to aesthetics. You’ve got an image or look in your head and you’re very fast making adjustments and changes. I’m a lot slower when it comes to making final decisions.
On working as a duo
Michael: Everyone felt that they paid double, but only got one!
On the end of their romantic relationship
Ingar: Strangely, it coincided with us daring to be more personal in our art.
On what they’ve learned from each other
Michael: That it’s not necessarily a bad thing if something continues. In my life, I’ve had a tendency to disappear and break off things easily if they became too routine or too intimate or too serious.
Ingar: One of the first things was learning to not be so fucking submissive to authority. Just to be more like “Fuck you!” to the establishment or something, because for me as a Norwegian… I think all Norwegians and Swedes are very rule-oriented. Danes are much more healthy when it comes to that.
On “no regrets”
Ingar: We’re totally Edith Piaf in that sense!
Interview by Hans Bussert
Read the full interview with Elmgreen & Dragset in Sleek 44
Read our interview with Maurizio Cattelan