A rendering of Dilemma (2017) by Elmgreen & Dragset. Image courtesy of the artists and Ekebergparken

Elmgreen & Dragset’s Fjord focus

The art duo’s latest sculpture Dilemma recalls the early childhood urge to both leap and hold back

Ekebergparken, the Oslo sculpture park, is pretty close to the waterfront in the Norwegian capital. Yet it’s still quite a drop from this hilltop park into the adjacent fjord. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the Danish-Norwegian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset from mounting a high-diving board at the top of the park.

The pair’s new work, Dilemma, which opens this weekend, depicts a board and a six-year-old boy two-thirds of his way along the board, contemplating the drop below.


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How should we read this? Well, here’s what the artists think. “Perched at the edge of the board,” the pair explain, “the boy’s crouched posture indicates that he is simultaneously excited and apprehensive about the potential jump.”

Anyone who can remember throwing themselves off something like this at such a tender age will no doubt recall those dual urges, which simultaneously hold us back and urge us forwards.

Elmgreen & Dragset often dwell on those, tender tentative early years; their 2012 Forth Plinth sculpture Powerless Structures, Fig 101, depicted a boy riding a rocking horse, while their 2012 Little Mermaid sculpture for Elsinore's harbour recast the Hans Christian Andersen figurine as a boy.


Elmgreen & Dragset
Elmgreen & Dragset

Maybe we should think of this new lost boy as a high-flying counterpart. For more on these important artists and other duos and collectives, order a copy of Co-Art; for more on site-specific art take a look at Art and Place.