NEW YORK, NY.- Hauser & Wirth
is presenting Monika Sosnowskas Tower, a mammoth new work that conjoins architecture and sculpture in order to explore the politics and poetics of space. Known for large-scale, site-specific installations, Sosnowska creates psychologically charged art rooted in existing structures and influenced by the built environment. She manipulates forms collapsing, twisting, and squeezing steel into disorienting configurations that not only alter perceptions of physical space but challenge our certainties about memory and our assumptions about societal structures.
Tower is on view from 5 September through 25 October at Hauser & Wirths downtown gallery at 511 West 18th Street.
For over a decade, Monika Sosnowska has amassed a documentary archive of visual material, mostly photographs made during her walks around her native Warsaw. Recording the conditions of everyday life in Poland, she captures architectural details and structures workshops, apartment blocks, abandoned buildings, demolition sites, forgotten places that reflect the heritage, upheaval, stagnation, and rebuilding of the city and the nations Communist past. Imbuing a kind of cultural memory in her oeuvre, Sosnowska makes sculpture that manifests recollections, both individual and collective, that collide where architectural space begins to take on the characteristics of mental space. Her formal language echoes different contradictory modernisms: that of Polish constructivism of the 1930s, the minimal and conceptual tendencies of international art from the 1960s and 1970s, and the Socialist architecture found in Eastern European states.
With Tower at Hauser & Wirth, Sosnowska takes on the International Style. Measuring approximately 110 feet in length, this sprawling work is inspired specifically by the design principles of German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the 20th centurys Ur- Modernist, and makes reference to the iconic International Style trope he elevated to sheer physical poetry: the glass curtain wall. With Tower, Sosnowska quotes the steel framework underlying the hung glass façade of Mies van der Rohes Chicago masterpiece, the Lake Shore Drive Apartments, abstracting, disfiguring and bending that framework into a fallen monument. Unmoored from its rational geometry, Tower stretches and curves across the gallerys vast exhibition space. Through Sosnowskas re-imagining, a coolly elegant, machined, and perfectly readable structure is transformed into something wholly opposite.
Completed in 1951, the Lake Shore Drive Apartments are among the most striking examples of the radicalization of Bauhaus ideology. These 26-storey skyscrapers are robust steel-framed structures wrapped in deceptively sumptuous materials floating mantles of steel and diaphanous glass in a synthesis of aesthetics and technology. At the time of their completion, Mies van der Rohes residential towers were among the most expensive ever built, vivid symbols of the imaginative forces driving American capitalism. The transparency of the International Style expressed a dream of societal openness that, when deployed in such a refined and luxurious manner, translated into an expression of power and prosperity. Meanwhile, Mies van der Rohes elegant statement stood in stark juxtaposition to the ways in which the very same architectural style figured in the creation of a new social order in Poland under Soviet rule.
Sosnowskas artistic process often begins with the creation of small maquettes and drawings, rooted in motifs of existing structural forms. Her work is then reproduced at a 1:1 scale with assistance from fabricators, technicians, and engineers, employing the same materials used in the referenced object. The huge steel framework of Tower was first constructed as a whole, later cut into more than fifty parts for viable transport, each piece sculptured under Sosnowskas direction. The making of Tower involved cranes, hydraulic presses, and chains in a labor intensive, heavily hand-worked process. Subverting its materials prefabricated rigidity, Tower twists and contorts the modernist grid to create a sort of reclining figure, a lyrical sculptural object that usurps perfect structural engineering. Tower is the latest product of Sosnowskas current exploration of the curtain wall as architectural motif and metaphor. In one recent work, for example, she reconstructed the glass façade of the Bauhaus School in Dessau, Germany, a legendary building designed by Walter Gropius.
A new catalogue has been published in conjunction with the New York presentation of Tower, featuring photographs by acclaimed Polish architectural photographer Juliusz Sokolowski, documenting Sosnowskas artistic process from development of her initial ideas through to the intermediate steps of fabrication. Each stage is recorded, capturing the process of creation, manipulation, and change. The images will be complemented by an essay from art historian Andrzej Turowski, Professor at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, France.
Monika Sosnowska was born in Poland in 1972. She currently lives and works in Warsaw. This summer Sosnowska held residency at LAtelier Calder in Saché, France (2014), and many of the models she created there will be the focus of an exhibition at Cahiers dArt in Paris in fall 2014. Major solo exhibitions for Sosnowska have included Market, Perez Art Museum, Miami FL (2013); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen CO (2013); Regional Modernities, Australian Center for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2013); The Modern Institute, Glasgow, Scotland (2012); The Staircase/Die Treppe, 2010, K21 Standehaus, Dusseldorf, Germany (2011); Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel (2010); Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Lichtenstein (2007); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York NY (2006). In 2007, Sosnowska represented Poland at the 52nd Venice Biennale, where her work garnered critical international attention for the monumental sculpture 1:1 (2007).