Spanning more than 3,000 square meters, “Useless Bodies?” is an exhibition by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset and one of the most ambitious thematic investigations realized by Fondazione Prada to date.
Conceived for four gallery spaces and the courtyard of its Milan venue, the exhibition explores the present condition of the body in the post-industrial age in which it seems that our physical presence is losing its centrality or is even completely superfluous. This shift impacts every aspect of our lives: from our working conditions, to our health, our interpersonal relationships, and the way we retain information. The exhibition “Useless Bodies?” also explores how we physically adapt to a world increasingly based on two-dimensional imagery, not least in the light of the current pandemic.
As stated by Elmgreen & Dragset, “our bodies are no longer the main agents of our existence. They don’t generate value in our societies’ advanced production methods as they did in the industrial era. One could claim our physical selves have even become more of an obstacle than an advantage. In the 19th century, the body was the producer of daily goods, whereas, in the 20th century, the body’s role became more that of the consumer. Twenty years into the 21st century the status of the body is now that of the product – with our data gathered and sold by Big Tech. With the publicly available knowledge surrounding the harvesting of data from tech companies being so inane, and the rapidly accelerating rate at which such companies are expanding into every aspect of our lives, it does sometimes feel a little scary to think about our bodies’ future role.”
Perception of the body is an underlying theme that connects many aspects of the sculptural and performative work of Elmgreen & Dragset, who throughout their career have explored subjects such as growing up, intimacy, identity, different modes of living and how we navigate the public sphere.
Following the exhibition path from the Podium, to the Nord gallery, to the Cisterna, the audience will encounter several immersive installations. The Milan premises of Fondazione Prada are transformed into a series of different universes, each with their own atmosphere, theme, and aesthetics.