Press Releases : 2010/03

The Norwegian Art Critics' Prize 2009

Published 2010/03/25

'The Collectors', The Nordic and Danish Pavilions La Biennale di Venezia 2009. Photographer: Anders Sune Berg


Wednesday, 7 April / 18:00

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7, Oslo /

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) is delighted to announce that artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have been awarded The Norwegian Art Critics' Prize 2009 for their curatorial work with the Nordic and Danish Pavilions and the exhibition 'The Collectors' in the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2009. The award ceremony will take place at OCA on Wednesday 7 April.

The award is given to an artist, institution, group or other contributor that has shown work of particular excellence during the past year. The prize is awarded on the basis of nominations from the approx. 90 members of the Norwegian Critics Association. The final decision is made by the Art Sections Board Committee. The prize itself is a statuette created by the artist Arne Nøst.

Following an award ceremony, 'The Collectors' will be presented by the artists and discussed in a panel. Refreshments will be served

Panelists: Michael ElmgreenIngar DragsetMarta Kuzma (Director OCA, and co-commissioner of the Nordic Pavilion),Will Bradley (critic/curator) and Johanne Nordby Wernø (critic). Moderator: Per Platou (artist/curator).

Statement of the Norwegian Art Critic's Association

'Elmgreen and Dragset's Nordic and Danish Pavillions project at the Venice Biennale 2009, 'The Collectors', was an esthetically strong and conceptually convincing imitation of two collector's homes. Laid out as a narrative performance, the artists pointed towards a thematic of the collector's private life. As a curatorial model and concept, this broke with the national categorization of the pavilions in The Giardini, so that the Nordic and Danish pavilion was were integrated in a combined model, presenting itself as something new to the Venice Biennale.

In its thematic the exhibition expanded on the role of the collector in today's art world. The collector's identity and practice was visualized critically, with humor. In a thorough composition, attention was given the values and lifestyle of the western middleclass, the nuclear family and the gay man, which, with a queer twist, ends in tragedy – family breakup, emotional Diaspora and suicide. In view of the economical crisis in the west and as a commentary on the last ten years inflated art market, 'The Collectors' presented itself as a poignant and ironic exhibit. The jury considers this to be the outstanding artistic highlight of 2009.'

About the Danish and Nordic Pavilions 2009

Elmgreen & Dragset's 'The Collectors' was initiated by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, the hosting organisation for the Nordic Pavilion in 2009, and the Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Arts, commissioners of their respective pavilions. With the intention to create a 'transnational neighbourhood' within the Giardini, an exhibition context traditionally dedicated to national representation, Elmgreen & Dragset were co-commissioned as curators by Christine Buhl Andersen, Chair of The Danish Arts Council's Committee for International Visual Art, and Marta Kuzma, Director of Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

'The Collectors' transformed the Danish and Nordic Pavilions into fictional collectors' houses, their architecture modified into domestic environments where art and design defined two different personalities and two ways of relating to art. Through this setup, the project questioned the system of national representation that dominates the pavilions in the Giardini, as well as the distinction between the public and the private. The artists and collectives included, both Scandinavian and international, are Thora Dolven BalkeMassimo BartoliniHernan BasGuillaume BijlMaurizio CattelanElmgreen & DragsetPepe EspaliúTom of FinlandSimon FujiwaraHan & HimLaura HorelliMartin JacobsonWilliam E. JonesTerence KohJani LeinonenKlara LidénJonathan MonkNico MuhlyNorway SaysHenrik OlesenNina SaundersVibeke SlyngstadSturtevant and Wolfgang Tillmans.

For press inquiries relating to the Art Critics' Prize 2009, please contact Janicke Iversen ( or André Gali (

For press images and additional information on the artists and the exhibition, please visit