2021, 755 x 325 x 300 cm
Stainless steel, laquer, concrete
Unique work

Position GPS: 59.330183, 18.114257

About the artwork

Elmgreen & Dragset’s Life Rings takes a typically singular, reusable, lightweight, and often-weathered emergency tool, and multiplies it into absurdity. In this impossible-seeming tower configuration, it looks as if the life rings have mushroomed upwards, towards the sky. Each life ring is connected to other rings, creating a structure that resembles a chain-link system.

Elmgreen & Dragset are known to make sculptures that modify everyday or inconspicuous objects with alterations that shift the values associated with those objects. Here, the life ring — usually made of basic materials like plastic or foam — is instead rendered in stainless steel, changing its materiality and thereby elevating it to a higher status associated with long-time use, art, and architecture.

The sculpture towers over seven meters tall, creating both a visual focal point and a potential meeting point. The work looks strangely familiar near the waterside, but at the same time, it might confound the viewer and instill a moment of wonder. The tower seems to defy any rules of balance or logic, as each ring seems to inexplicably support another ring. In the resulting tension between recognition and bewilderment, a humorous and poetic moment occurs, that might ultimately make us more aware of where we are, who we are, and that we all are dependent on each other—we must all care for each other.


The sculpture was acquired in 2021 by Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation thanks to generous contributions by Lisen & Richard Båge, Ulrica & Paul Frankenius and an anonymous donor. 

Prinsessan Estelles Kulturstiftelse
Kungliga Slottet
107 70 Stockholm