pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010
pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010
sep 10, 2010

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010

brodno people – front view in collaboration with pawel buchholz, marcin leszczynski, michal mioduszewski, stawomir mocarski, julia matea petelska, jedrzej rogozinskimage © designboom

pawel althamer (b.1967 warsaw, poland)’s sculptures, videos, and performances explore the fragility and contingency of the body–often his own–within the wider sphere of social and political contexts. he has often submitted his body to extreme states, either physically or psychologically. in one earlier performance work, althamer sealed himself inside a body-sized plastic bag that slowly filled with cold water (‘water, space, time’, 1991), and in another, with the help of hypnosis and hallucinogenic drugs, he explored the inner landscape of his mind (‘the so called waves and other phenomena of the mind’, 2003-2004).

his sculptures engage with the body less directly, often through the logic of substitution. his human-scale sculptures, representing himself or members of his family, are constructed from hair, straw, intestine, and cloth-visceral, rough-hewn materials that seem poised on the threshold between embodiment and decay.

for this year’s gwanju art biennale, althamer has created a new version of auguste rodin’s the burghers of calais, entitled ‘brodno people’ made with the help of people from a working class neighborhood of warsaw. rodin’s sculpture tells the story of six leading citizens of the town of calais, france, who, in 1347, volunteered themselves as hostages to king edward III of england in exchange for lifting an eleven-month siege on their city during the hundred years war. althamer’s version emphasizes the social and political circumstances of the work’s production by foregrounding collective practice over individual authorship. like totems or idols from a personal religion, his figures appear almost as placeholders for the artist’s body and those of his loved ones, as if their presence might somehow ward off the inevitable decay of the flesh.

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 exhibition view image © designboom

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 image © designboom

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 general shot image © designboom

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 brodno people, 2010 by pawel althamer (1967- ) image © designboompawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 side view image © designboom

pawel althamer at gwangju art biennale 2010 pawel althamer portrait © designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,303 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine