I am walking down a corridor of a stranger’s house. I am fully aware that I am an uninvited guest snooping around the rooms, and I find myself getting increasingly anxious. I come across a table broken in half, a boy crouched in a fireplace under a massive portrait of himself, and a clock with the minute and hour dials taped at the same spot, while the seconds keep passing by. I hear the shower running, and I feel my heart tightening. I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I should not be there.
This is why Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s Tomorrow is so gripping. It really makes you feel like you just walked into a Kubrick film and the door was slammed shut behind you. Now you have to walk across to go to the other side, even though you don’t know what is waiting there.
The two artists took over the former Textile Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum to create a major site-specific installation, a stage set for an unrealised drama that serves as an unexpected encounter between you as a visitor and the space as a host.
They transport us to the eve of Norman Swann’s 75th birthday; burdened by the upkeep of his inherited house, Norman finds himself bankrupt, hopeless and in need for money, so he is forced to pack his things up and sell the house. Throughout his earthly possessions runs a line of clues on what brought him to this state, and the visitor has a few minutes while Norman (or maybe someone else) comes out of the shower, to explore and understand what brought this fate on him.
The flowers on the table, the marks of the paintings that were removed from the walls, the half painted kitchen, homosexual references, erectile dysfunction, fear of death and ageing are all drawn into a bizarre nightmare, and you feel like you stepped into the set of a play you did not know you were in.
Have you ever thought what your possessions reveal? Possessions or obsessions? Reasons, excuses, or explanations; an attitude formed by what you possess; a character formed by what you don’t.