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Copenhagen Contemporary reopens with an installation by Elmgreen & Dragset
Elmgreen & Dragset, Kev (2020). Installation view in Short Story at Copenhagen Contemporary, 2021. Photo: David Stjernholm.

COPENHAGEN.- With the installation Short Story, the Danish-Norwegian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset has transformed Hall 2 into a virtually full-size tennis court. The familiar orange floor, the white chalk lines, and the net frame a hushed scene where the three sculptures Flo, Kev, and Bogdan play the leading roles.

Elmgreen og Dragset's Short Story is a film still, capturing the moment after a match; however, it is up to viewers to fill out the narratives frozen in time and space before them. Short Story does not provide much in the way of answers or explanations. Three characters stand before us, but the underlying subtle narratives remain fleeting and difficult to decipher. Instead, we step into an arena where we can reflect on and discuss subjects like competition, individualism, inclusion, and exclusion.

Winners and losers?
The posture of the two white-painted bronze sculptures of the young boys named Flo and Kev indicate that they have just finished a match. The boys look tiny and isolated on the huge tennis court, their bodies and gazes deflected from one another – their dialogue and interaction having ended. Instead of exultation, the scene is characterised by a hushed discomfort for both the ‘winner’ and the ‘loser’. The sculpture Flo has turned his back on his opponent and is staring on the trophy he appears to have won. But instead of being proud of his victory, he seems sad and lonely while Kev, prostrate on the other side of the court, appears to be overwhelmed by his defeat.

In a corner outside the tennis court, a third figure is seated, namely the old man Bogdan, sitting in his wheelchair, half asleep, surveying the court. With drooping eyelids, he appears to be withdrawing from the reality surrounding him, perhaps allowing an inner world to replace reality. Is he perhaps imagining the tennis match between the two boys – a remote memory appearing in a dream? Or is he just a spectator like the rest of us? In Short Story, the narrative is open.

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