Public Art Fund Talks: Elmgreen & Dragset


Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset’s free virtual talk on March 11 centers on their new permanent public commission, The Hive, 2020, a fantastical inverted cityscape inspired by iconic buildings in New York City and from cities around the world, which the artists have woven into architectural designs of their own invention. The artists have created this monumental site-specific artwork for the newly opened Moynihan Train Hall in New York City – the busiest transportation hub in North America.

Choosing to title the work The Hive, Elmgreen & Dragset suggest a link between natural and human-made structures, like the complex and evolving architecture of a hive. They’ve also described the ceiling-mounted buildings as being like luminous stalactites that pay tribute to the cities we live in today while reminding us of our cave-dweller origins. With technological precision, the imaginary city captures the multiplicity and synergy of the world’s metropolises. Appearing simultaneously monumental and weightless, the work is composed of 91 buildings that weigh a total of more than 30,000 lbs and extend to nearly nine feet in height. The 72,000 LEDs located within the model buildings illuminate the 31st Street Entrance Hall from day to night, reflecting New York’s ceaseless energy and celebrating the new perspectives and interconnectedness that cities and travel provide.

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Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union

About the Moynihan Train Hall Art Program

The new Moynihan Train Hall in Midtown Manhattan features three unprecedented site-specific art installations by Stan Douglas, artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, and Kehinde Wiley. The artworks were commissioned by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund. Ceiling installations by Wiley and Elmgreen & Dragset­­ define two primary entrances to the Train Hall, while Douglas’s photo series appears in four 22-foot-long sections on the wall that span the Ticketed Waiting Area adjacent to the skylit main boarding concourse. A testament to the city’s creativity, diversity and heritage, the three monumental commissions embrace the civic character of Moynihan Train Hall and offer a fresh perspective on the history and splendor of the original Penn Station and Farley Post Office.

The Train Hall was unveiled to the public by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on January 1, 2021 and transforms the James A. Farley Building into a world-class transportation hub that increases the existing Penn Station rail complex’s concourse space and reshapes the travel experience of the busiest passenger transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere.

About the Artists

Michael Elmgreen (born in 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) & Ingar Dragset (born in 1969 in Trondheim, Norway) have worked as a duo since 1995. They live and work in Berlin, Germany.

Elmgreen & Dragset work at the crossroads of sculpture, installation and architecture. Preoccupied with the discourse that can arise when familiar objects are radically recontextualized, the artist duo pushes against the conventional modes for the display of art. Whether through sculptures or total environments, their work draws attention to the institutions that host them and their attendant politics. Performativity is fraught in their work, which invites or denies participation in equal measure. In their public sculptures Elmgreen & Dragset recontextualize their surroundings, as seen in well-known projects like Van Gogh’s Ear at Rockefeller Plaza in New York or Prada Marfa, located along Highway 90 in the middle of the Texan desert.

About the Talks

Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series feature internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.