A giant hoarding outside the main entrance to the Victoria & Albert Museum offers a “New Residential Development at a Prime Heritage Location” However, all is not what it seems, the V&A hasn’t decided to sell off part of the building, the hoading is a scene setter for the latest site-specific installation by mischievous Scandinavian artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingmar Dragset, who gave us the golden boy on a rocking horse on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth plinth earlier this year and who are perhaps most famous for installing a Prada Shop in the desert of Marfa.
Let loose in the V&A, Elmgreen & Dragset have converted the first floor textile galleries into the grand, decaying fictional flat of Norman Swann, an unsuccessful retired architect forced to sell up his inherited home and possessions, some of which are sourced from the V&A’s holdings, and some of which have been provided by the artists themselves.
Tomorrow is an utterly convincing and somewhat disconcerting mise en scene which combines elaborate chandeliers, antique furniture, precious ornaments and specially-uniformed museum attendants cast in the role of loyal staff.
What I loved about this show is that it is completely immersive and you are able to poke around and piece together the details of the life of the unfortunate Norman Swann, which have been painstakingly assembled by the artists. I spent a fantastic afternoon sitting on Norman’s bed, and snooping in his study, which is filled with architecture books and models of his failed social housing schemes. This is an unexpected but utterly engaging show and best of all it’s free!
Tomorrow by Elmgreen & Dragset at Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington – until 2 January 2014.
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