‘Just imagine space is endless.’ With this proposition in mind, Alicja Kwade (b.1979, Katowice, Poland) used to fall asleep as a child, knowing since then that she wanted to be an artist. Daughter of a conservator and a cultural scientist, she found her interests converging at the intersection of art and science since a very young age. Notions of space and time are at the heart of her practice, which unfolds through sculpture and large-scale installations also comprising photography and video.
Alicja’s wonderland is built of masterfully fabricated objects, which challenge the laws of physics, aiming to explore the endless possibilities at the edges of reality and suspicion. Her compositions result into spectacular orchestrations; made of doubled items and multiple elements, which interact, join, and occasionally meld. ‘It is not about creating twin objects – she says – but cutting time into a lot of slices and putting it back together again.’ (Bradley, 2013) The combination of materials such as mirror, copper and gold therefore conveys the idea of the existence of a series of parallel dimensions, which the human senses would perhaps never perceive.
The video Ein Tag in 7 Minuten und 23 Sekunden (2006) is an example of Kwade’s preoccupation with the concept of time. It shows a series of clocks and wristwatches selected from 24 feature films, portraying one day in 7:23 minutes. The clock is a recurring object in the artist’s work, appearing in diverse contexts and for different purposes: a silent reminder of the constant oscillation of time. Another piece following this line is Nach Osten (2013), which takes the Foucault’s pendulum and turns it into a lightbulb, swinging in a dark space attached to a very long cord, which theatrically amplifies its sound. In this respect, the artist specified: ‘The important thing is that the object itself is touching something in the viewer. Some works are more complex and you can’t get the inner plot without someone explaining it. But if the viewer does get that vision and my starting point, it’s important to be very honest.’ (Bradley, 2013)
Kwade gained her first official recognition with the Piepenbrock Förderpreis for Sculpture she won in 2008, granting her an exhibition at the Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof. Her artistic career can be visualised with a continuously rising arrow. Currently, her work Medium Median is on display at The Whitechapel Gallery, London, until the 25th of June 2017, as part of the gallery’s annual commission. The installation revolves around a 21st century mobile, featuring twenty-four electronic star charts. These receive information from GPS satellites, which show the locations of stars, whilst transmitting a reading of extracts from Genesis in unison. The screens here function as windows into the Milky Way, with the viewer at its centre, surrounded by a series of bronze casts resembling the mass rotating throughout the universe.
Her work is included in major public and private collections, such as Zabludowicz Collection, Reykjavik Art Museum, SØR Rusche Sammlung, Mudam Luxembourg – Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Lubeznik Center for the arts, HEART Herning Museum Of Contemporary Art and Olbricht Collection – just to mention a few. Upcoming exhibitions will see her at The Garden Triennale, Denmark, and Museum Frieder Burda, Berlin – where she will be put in conversation with artist Sigmar Polke.
In the landscape of today’s contemporary art, which is overly populated by fashionable brands prior to content, Alicja Kwade’s practice offers a rare example of aesthetic accomplishment supported by a solid and thorough body of research.
For the month of February, CtC will present a selection of Alicja Kwade’s works on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Miriam La Rosa
Bradley, Kimberly. “Alicja Kwade.” ArtReview, December 2013. Accessed January 28, 2017. https://artreview.com/features/december_2013_feature_alicja_kwade/
Konig Galerie: http://www.koeniggalerie.com (Accessed January, 28 2017).
Whitechapel Gallery: http://www.whitechapelgallery.org (Accessed January 28, 2017).