Mr B is dead. He died two years ago at the Venice Biennale.
Artist duo Elmgreen and Dragset transformed the Danish and Nordic Pavilion into the playboy pad of the fictional Mr B, for their 2009 installation entitled "The Collectors". Works from 24 artists decorated the walls, creating the fictional collector's house. In front of the Pavilion, laying face down in a swimming pool, was a drowned Mr B, his shoes and socks to the side, and his expensive watch glistening at the bottom.
Two years on, at the Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, the mystery of Mr B continues with snippets of his life and death. The first room is transformed into an imposing bourgeois mansion, with cold grey walls and an immense white fire place at one end and a marble table at the other. Huddled in the alcove of the fireplace is a little boy, kitted out in a public school uniform. Above the fireplace is an austere portrait of the same boy. At the other end of the room, a dead bouquet of flowers lays on the table, and a mirror with the words " I will never see you again" scrawled on them is on the wall above it.
The second installation features the corpse of Mr B - just his cold, dead feet visible - on the drawer of an open mortuary drawer. At the opposite side of the room, an X-ray hints at some potential cause of death, deepening the mystery further.
The third and final room of the installation skips back to Mr B as a baby, strapped in to a box on the to the back of a scooter, inside a private garage.
Who is Mr B? What happened in his life? How and why did he die? Mr B is a character who exists in the minds of the artists, and is brought to life in the eyes of his viewers, only in a frozen snippets of time. This exhibition takes the narrative back to its beginning, for the viewer to ask new questions and to draw new conclusions on the fictional art collector's story.
Elmgreen & Dragset "The Afterlife of the Mysterious Mr B"
Until 18th June, 2011
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
10 Impasse St Claude, 75003 Paris
All images © Kim Laidlaw Adrey