Pawel Althamer

Pawel Althamer

MUSEION—Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano-Bozen

Pawel Althamer, Matthias, Heidrun, Holger, Andreas, Eleanor,
René and Fabio,

May 21, 2012

Pawel Althamer


26 May–26 August 2012
Opening: 25 May, 7pm

Common Task, Bolzano (2012)

23–25 May 2012

Artist talk
24 May, 7:30pm

MUSEION of Modern and 
Contemporary Art Bolzano
Via Dante 6, 39100 Bolzano, Italy

Museion in Bolzano is devoting a double event to Pawel Althamer (born Warsaw, 1967), the artist’s first appearance in a public institution in Italy, with the solo show Polyethylene curated by Letizia Ragaglia and the performance project Common Task, Bolzano (2012), curated by Andrea Viliani.

Polyethylene: science fiction meets Baroque
A crowd of pale sculptures, part zombies, part creatures from an unknown civilization—positioned singly or in groups—is set to take over the exhibition space on Museion’s fourth floor. The result of a “collective creative process,” the figures were created for the exhibition Almech at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. Pawel Althamer’s work has always explored the roots of classic sculpture, subverting its principles. During the Berlin exhibition the artist and his staff created plaster casts of the faces of volunteers involved in the project. The masks—highly realistic, but also totem-like and surreal—were grafted onto bodies of “synthetic white flesh,” aka polyethylene. Channeling everything from classical to Baroque sculpture, the funerary art of the Middle Ages, comic strip aesthetics, and sci-fi films, the sculptures are of great emotional impact, evoking multiple associations. Each of them embodies both a single story and infinite stories, and together they form a social sculpture which extends beyond the confines of the museum. With the Pawel Althamer show Museion continues its exploration of the different languages of contemporary sculpture, and its reflections on the permeability of the museum venue.

In parallel to the exhibition in Museion, the Sammlung Goetz in Munich, Germany will be hosting solo show devoted to Pawel Althamer. The performance Common Task forges a connection between the two shows.

Common Task, Bolzano (2012)
Museion presents the first showing of Common Task in Italy. Around 20 performers (the artist, along with friends, relatives, and neighbors), travelling from Poland in a gold bus, will visit and explore both the museum and the city of Bolzano, wandering astronaut-like among the sculptures in the exhibition Polyethylene, and also through the streets of Bolzano and the valleys of the South Tyrol region, exploring local traditions like the wood carving of Val Gardena. Their actions will mostly spring from encounters with the local community and the staff of the museum, thus representing an authentically “time-based” exhibition. Compared to the canons of the museum exhibition, this uncontrollable element forges a connection with the urban setting and the background of social and cultural relationships that underpins it. The event is part of the broader Common Task project that the artist initiated in 2008 as a series of performance actions. Drawing on Althamer’s studies under Grzegorz Kowalski at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, Common Task is conceived as a science fiction movie shot in real time in contemporary society, used as an adventurous film set. What the project puts forward and shares is a more hypothetical and propositional approach to institutional as well as art practice.

On occasion of the exhibition and performance by Pawel Althamer in Museion there will be a catalogue (in Italian, German and English) with texts by Letizia Ragaglia, Andrea Viliani, and Sebastian Cichocki, published by Mousse Publishing.

Museion’s institutional partners are Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Alto Adige, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano, and the MUSEION Partners.

Pawel Althamer, Common Task, Bolzano (2012) event supported by Fiorucci Art Trust.
We would like to thank Mauro De Iorio and the Fondazione Giuliani for their support in producing the catalogue.

*Image above: 
Pawel Althamer, Matthias, Heidrun, Holger, Andreas, Eleanor, René and Fabio, 2011.*
© Pawel Althamer, courtesy neugerriemschneider, Berlin and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw.
Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin



Pawel Althamer: Polyethylene and Common Task at MUSEION, Bolzano
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MUSEION—Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano-Bozen
May 21, 2012

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