Body in a Swimming Pool - Gligorov Copied by Elmgreen & Dragset

by Pool Builders on 09-06-2009 in Articles

Pablo Picasso's famous quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal" could be perfect to highlight the clamorous case that has rocked the boat on the Venetian lagoon.

The installation Death of Collector (2009) by the Elmgreen & Dragset duo presented at the Scandinavian pavilion of the 53rd Venice Biennale is a clone of the work Like a Rolling Stone by Robert Gligorov exhibited exactly nine years before this Biennale at the gallery La Giardina in Verona. It is hard to say whether Elmgreen & Dragset are good or great artists, but with this work they have definitely attracted the attention of the media.

At the Venetian exhibition Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, curators of Denmark and the Northern Countries' pavilion, with the collaboration of twenty-four international artists and groups have created an imaginary collection, turning the exhibitive areas into domestic environments which house an imaginary gay collector. And right in this typically Nordic residence we can catch a glimpse of a floating body in a swimming pool, an installation which is conceptually identical to the work realised in 2000 by Robert Gligorov on the occasion of his personal exhibition in his Veronese hometown.

"The resemblance is incredible - confirmed the gallery manager from Verona Cristina Morato - furthermore, we should not forget that it was published in the catalogue State of Grace, 2000, edited by Achille Bonito Oliva and Paul Ardenna, a publication which circled the globe".

At the gallery La Giardina, Gligorov had realised the event Prime Crime: a memory, a bereavement, a crime, that of Brian Jones, guitar player and poly-instrumentalist of the Rolling Stones, found dead in his Hollywood swimming pool in 1969. In a small pool, a dummy, which simulated the rock-star's corpse, floated on the water with his music playing in the background.

The work was impressive for that particularity, implied in the attempt of this Macedonian artist, who lives and works in Milan, to shock and create an emotional short circuit between what's real and what's imaginary. Gligarov experiments his different languages with themes and intuitions which are never repetitive. He uses videos and photography, installations and painting shaping them to suit the needs of a research which always faces the limits and ambiguities of the representation. Versatile artist par excellence, Gligorov continually investigates the mutable aspects of reality testing on the one hand, the unnatural features of things and on the other hand, subverting what appears real and reliable to make it imaginary and sometimes ironic.

On the occasion of the Venice Biennale, Gligorov is displaying, at Palazzo Pesaro Papafava in Cannareggio, photos and videos in the memory of Delara Darabi, Iranian artist and poetess recently executed but the Iranian regime. Critical towards the art system, Robert Gligorov claims that it would be right to recognise the authorship of the work, while Morato stresses that "the Biennale presents new works, realised specifically; it is difficult to talk about a coincidence considering the artist's notoriety. Moreover, his works certainly do not go unnoticed".

At the moment neither the artist nor the gallery manager are thinking about taking legal action, but they expect the work's authorship to be recognised even by the management of the Biennale which has conferred the special quote "Curare mondi" (Healing worlds) on the Elmgreen & Dragset duo.

This proves that some works that are considered trendy (and rewarded) at the Biennale are actually surpassed. Art is increasingly more created on art and no author can ignore what the previous artists have done. So there is nothing wrong with an eclectic attitude inspired to the past, but often it would be the case to maintain a margin of originality and autonomy to give life to a completely new work. But innovation, these days, is a virtue which is dying out.

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