Danish & Nordic Pavilion, 53th Venice Biennial of Art


Curated by Elmgreen & Dragset
Danish & Nordic Pavilion, 53th Venice Biennial of Art (2009)
Commissioned by DAC Danish Arts Council and OCA Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Exhibition Design, Art Production & Management

Artists and designers included in the exhibition: Thora Dolven Balke, Massimo Bartolini, Hernan Bas, Guillaume Bijl, Maurizio Cattelan, Elmgreen & Dragset, Pepe Espaliú, Tom of Finland, Simon Fujiwara, Han & Him, Laura Horelli, Martin Jacobson, William E. Jones, Terence Koh, Jani Leinonen, Klara Lidén, Jonathan Monk, Nico Muhly, Norway Says, Henrik Olesen, Nina Saunders, Vibeke Slyngstad, Sturtevant and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Other features Fredrik Sjöberg’s Fly Collection, Massimo De Carlo’s Porcelain Collection, Collected Etnographica, Real Estate Agents performed by Helen Statman & Trevor Stuart.

M+B Studio supported the artistic duo, Elmgreen & Dragset, during the whole exhibition development and setting up by providing technical drawings, local coordination before and during the installation phase, and logistic assistance in Venice.
In close collaboration with the curators and the commissioners, M+B Studio requested permits and authorizations by liaising with the Biennale Office and local authorities.

In 2019 the project won the SPECIAL MENTION AWARD.

For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale, two national pavilions will merge to present one single exhibition.

“[…] Together with a selection of invited international artists, Elmgreen & Dragset will transform the existing architecture of the two pavilions into domestic settings, and invite the audience to be guests in a homely ambience. Here, dining rooms and bedrooms, furniture, fireplaces, a stained glass skylight and the artworks nestled within the households will reveal the uncanny stories of various fictional inhabitants, their obsessive characters and their diverse lifestyles.

The public will be guided on a tour by a real estate agent through a ‘For Sale’ Danish Pavilion, and will be told the story of the Ingmar Bergman-style family dramas that used to haunt this house. A long swimming pool will lead the visitors to the neighbouring Nordic Pavilion – a flamboyant bachelor’s pad. Inside they will encounter the domestic remnants of the mysterious Mister B, and be met by a group of young male hustlers sipping vodka tonics in an environment that could be a case study house motif taken from a David Hockney painting.

As the title of the show indicates, the curators will approach the topic of collecting, and the psychology behind the practice of expressing oneself through physical objects. Why do we gather items and surround ourselves with them in our every day lives? Which mechanisms of desire trigger our selection? The selected artworks, alongside the interior design, kitchenware, clothing and even a collection of flies, will compose the complex narratives of this double exhibition. Through the house décor and the collection of artworks, the garments in the wardrobes, the porcelain in the kitchen and the books in the library, the identities of the fictional inhabitants, their passions and melancholy, will emerge piece by piece”.
(See the Official website)

The collaboration between the Danish Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion for the 53rd International Art Exhibition was coordinated as a joint venture between the Office for Contemporary Art Norway and the Danish Arts Council.

“The Collectors” received the Special Mention Award from the International Jury, composed by Jack Bankowsky (USA), Homi K. Bhabha (India), Sarat Maharaj (South Africa), Angela Vettese (Italy, president), and Julia Voss (Germany), as a recognition of the re-imagining of the ‘national pavilions’ as a collaborative universe, bringing together the work of 24 artists and collectives in the adjoining Danish and Nordic Pavilions.

More info about The Collectors:
Official web site:

“Artforum”, June 01, 2009, Interview, Elmgreen & Dragset talk about the Danish and Nordic pavilions in Venice

“Domus”, The Collectors ai Giardini, 27 Maggio 2009

Photo Credits:
Installation shot from ‘The Collectors’ The Danish & Nordic Pavilions, 2009 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia Photographer: Anders Sune Berg
All credits (PDF)
Some photos by M+B Studio