Interview
Frieze London 2018

Agony uncles: Dear Elmgreen & Dragset

Our readers ask the leading artists what they think about life, the art world and everything in between

ELMGREEN & DRAGSET

Have a creative block? “Just get drunk,” advise Elmgreen & Dragset Photo: Elmar Vestner

I’m a recent graduate from art school. Should I try to get gallery representation, or focus on building a following on social media?

Elmgreen & Dragset: Do both. But most importantly, use your time together with fellow artists and make your own independent projects. Don’t ever try to fulfil expectations.

How do you maintain a good working relationship after you’ve separated as a romantic couple?

Splitting up as a couple actually put new energy into our professional lives together. It was almost like starting afresh and being new to each other once again.

I’ve got a creative block. What do you do when this happens to you?

If the creative block is because of worries in your life, then sort those out. Otherwise just get drunk. Or do something that will surprise yourself in order to break your routine. Sometimes moving to another place, be it a new part of town or another continent, can help. It’s also OK not to have a constant flow of genius ideas.

When in your career did you begin to think about your legacy?

It’s enough to just not have too bad a reputation. Legacy… hmm… too big a mouthful.

Who would win in a fight? You or the Chapman brothers?

We don’t believe that we would get into a fight.

Which artist would you like to life-draw?

We’re pretty terrible at drawing, but David Hockney while smoking a cigarette could be a nice subject.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Not to forget that everyone’s got a story.

My gallerist isn’t paying me on time. What should I do?

What’s on time? Payments from galleries can take up to six months. After that deadline: burn their Porsche!

A big gallery has approa­ched me, but I feel guilty about leaving my long-term gallerist. What should I do?

Follow your gut feeling. If you are not totally satisfied with how your previous gallery has performed in relation to you as an artist, and the new one has more to offer, you probably already know the answer yourself. But a big gallery does not guarantee more success—it’s basically all about how you will handle these new challenges and how you will be able to position yourself within this new context.

London is too expensive. Where should I move to?

Brussels is inexpensive, centrally located and has good collectors for young art. Berlin is packed with artists and pretty slow but still has one of the best artists’ communities, with plenty of room for discussions and many alternative, non-commercial venues. Lisbon is very affordable and so pleasant but has its own pace and less international exposure. Seoul has a very vibrant scene at the moment. Los Angeles is not cheap, but professionally it’s probably one of the most interesting places today, and still more affordable than London. Or you could go somewhere else and make that location a hotspot together with other artists.

• Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue, Whitechapel Gallery, until 13 January 2019