March 7, 2017 - Pirelli HangarBicocca - Miroslaw Balka: CROSSOVER/S
March 7, 2017

Pirelli HangarBicocca

View of Miroslaw Balka, Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen (Ways to treat pain), Four Domes Pavilion, Wroclaw, 2011. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Lukasz Kropiowski.

Miroslaw Balka
March 16–July 30, 2017

Press conference: March 14, 10am–2pm
Opening: March 15, 7–11:55pm

Pirelli HangarBicocca
Via Chiese, 2
20126 Milan
Hours: Thursday–Sunday 10am–10pm

T +39 02 6611 1573
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On March 16, 2017, Pirelli HangarBicocca presents CROSSOVER/S, the first retrospective in Italy by Miroslaw Balka (b. 1958 in Warsaw), one of the leading artists of the last three decades, whose work explores human life, human nature, and individual and collective memory. Reflecting on the history of Europe and especially of Poland, his birthplace and home, Balka draws on autobiographical elements and episodes to create works that address universal themes in a powerfully evocative way.

The exhibition, curated by Vicente Todolí, brings together more than 15 iconic sculptures, installations, and videos made from the 1990s to the present, along with a new work, Holding the Horizon (2016), a video conceived specifically for the show at Pirelli HangarBicocca.

CROSSOVER/S, conceived for the Navate space at Pirelli HangarBicocca, focuses on the later period in Balka’s artistic investigation and oeuvre, through an immersive exhibition full of physical, symbolic, and temporal intersections, where even light and darkness take on a key role and where viewers are made aware of their own presence and function within the space. In the artist’s words, “It is important to remind the visitor that they are not only eyes, but also the body that walked in the space” (Miroslaw Balka, in Dylan Kerr, “Sculptor Miroslaw Balka on the Romance of Conceptual Art,” Artspace, 2015).

At the heart of the exhibition is Cruzamento (2007), a cross-shaped structure made out of wire cage, incorporating five fans, while an endless echo originates from the black-tinted water that trickles over metal in the looming fountain of Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen (2011) and in the Cubo space visitors find Yellow Nerve (2012/2015), an almost imperceptible work that emphasizes the vast dimensions of the building: a thin, slowly twisting yellow thread hangs down from ceiling to floor.

In the exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca, past and present constantly intersect, mapping out a journey through time where personal memories and myths are tied to the collective ones of a population, shedding light on complex historical dynamics still difficult to face.

"Contemporary time does not exist, we cannot catch the continuous. As we move ever into the future we are always based in the past. This is the state of my sculpture […] Everything we touch is coming from the past, it’s our access to death. For me the important thing in my art is to try to catch that consciousness of life." (Miroslaw Balka in Iwona Blazwick, James Lingwood and Andrea Schlieker, Possible Worlds. Sculpture from Europe, ICA and Serpentine Gallery, London, 1990, p.18).

The artistic career of Miroslaw Balka began in the mid-1980s, with figurative sculptures connected to his own life story and to the historical and political context of post-war Poland. In the early 1990s, Balka abandoned anthropomorphic forms to concentrate on depicting symbolic objects like beds, pedestals and fountains, in works that allude to the human presence without ever portraying it. Frequently based on ordinary materials like wood, salt, ashes, soap, cement and steel, they often employ the dimensions of the artist’s own body as a unit of measurement, as the titles make clear. This creates a proportional relationship directly linking the human figure to space, vision, experience, and memory. Balka has had solo exhibitions at numerous museums and other venues around the world and in 2009 he presented the project How It Is as part of the annual Unilever Series at Tate Modern in London.


Public program

April 27 
Miroslaw Balka in conversation with Julian Heynen

May 23
A concert with Agata Zubel

The exhibition program at Pirelli HangarBicocca
CROSSOVER/S is part of the exhibition program conceived by Artistic Director Vicente Todolí for Pirelli HangarBicocca. Miroslaw Balka’s exhibition is presented in the Navate space, where programming will continue with shows by Lucio Fontana (September 20, 2017–February 25, 2018) and Matt Mullican (March–July 2018). The Shed will instead be housing a solo show by Rosa Barba (May 5–October 8, 2017).

Pirelli HangarBicocca
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