[April 29 2015]
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s exhibit Past Tomorrow at Galerie Perrotin continues the story of Norman Swann, a fictional self-consumed, dispirited old architect who’s relocated from London, with what’s left of his inheritance, to a small apartment in New York. At Past Tomorrow, visitors can view Norman’s current living space and handle his personal belongings. In addition, the artists have published a small book, which encompasses both this exhibition and its precursor Tomorrow at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and contains an unrealized screenplay featuring the begrudged old man. The book’s preface reads:
Norman Swann’s family fortune is long gone. Two years ago, at the age of seventy-four and deeply in debt, the retiree was still living in his family home, a grand apartment in London’s South Kensington neighborhood. Norman had served for decades as a part-time teacher of architecture at Cambridge University, but he never managed to realize a single one of his visionary projects. Bankrupt and burdened with his cultural heritage, privileged family background, and a home filled with antiques and paintings collected by his ancestors, he had no choice but to put the property up for sale.
Norman chooses to abandon West London and make the transatlantic move to New York City, where he had previously lived during the 1980’s. He settles into an apartment that is much smaller than his family’s former palatial residence, and retreats into the solitary bedroom. Past Tomorrow will be on view at Galerie Perrotin, 909 Madison Avenue in New York until the 23rd of May.
Text and photo Paige Silveria