Presenting her fifth solo exhibition at The Modern Institute, Warsaw-based artist Monika Sosnowska’s large-scale sculptures will occupy both the gallery’s Aird’s Lane location and outside green-space. Continuing her interest in the lived landscapes of the urbanised world, Sosnowska’s new work draws direct inspiration from recent research trips to Russia (notably to view the surviving structures of pioneering Russian Engineer, Vladimir Shukhov (1853–1939)), creating a body of work that expands upon her negotiation of our complex physical and psychological use of space.
Responsible for major breakthroughs in industrial design, Shukhov’s work assisted the rapid industrialisation of the Russian oil and construction industry. Focusing in particular on Shukhov’s hyperboloid towers and structures–Sosnowska draws attention to the tensile relationship between form and function–her work finding commonality with Shukhov’s lightweight skeletal constructions, that balance decorative effect with mathematical accuracy and structural economy.
Replicating real-sized architectural forms–Sosnowska distorts and fatigues* her industrial material, creating disorientating, constructions whose curtailed and compressed shapes bend as if weathered by the demands of historical time. The structural impossibility of her work highlights a point of departure, as the functionality and rationality of architecture gives way to the uncertainty and–perhaps even–absurdity of sculpture.
Throughout her practice Sosnowska has consistently engaged with the wider context of aesthetic and cultural change within former Eastern Europe states. As the influence of various conflicting modernisms and socialist ideals faded, so too, the utilitarian certainty and utopian promise of its architecture waned–disused, demolished and replaced–the physical markers that defined a place and time, discarded by the momentum of advancement.
Indeed, as the allegory of progress dictates–ground-breaking achievement paves the way for its own obsolescence, yet as Sosnowska’s work posits–perhaps this constant breakthrough should not be conflated with consistent betterment. In Sosnowska’s work we see a visualisation of the pitfalls of progress unvetted by consequence, her works ambivalence to change reflects on the folly of the all-consuming modernist paradigm.
*Metal fatigue is a weakening of metal due to stress, resulting in an accumulation of small cracks. Caused by repeatedly applied loads. It is the progressive and localised structural damage that occurs when a material is subjected to cyclic loading.
Monika Sosnowska (b. 1972, Ryki, Poland); lives and works in Warsaw. Sosnowska studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland (1993—1998), she completed a post-graduate program at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in 2000. Recent selected solo exhibitions include: Habitat, The Contemporary Austin, Austin (2016); Indianapolis Museum of Art (2016); The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane (Glasgow International) (2016); Architectonisation, Serralves Foundation, Porto (2015); Gate, Ginza Maison Hermes, Ginza (2015); Perez Art Museum Miami, Miami (2013); Aspen Art Museum (2013); Regional Modernities, ACCA, Melbourne (2013); The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow (2012); Fire Escape, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2011); Stairway, Herzliya Museum Tel Aviv, Israel (2010); The Staircase, K21, Düsseldorf (2010); and 1:1, The Polish Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).
She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including: Sculpture on the Move 1946—2016, Kunstmuseum Basel (2016); Architectural Allusions, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln (2015); Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity, MCA, Chicago (2012), New Sculpture, Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, Warsaw (2012); ILLUMInations, Arsenale, Venice Biennale, Venice (2011); elles@centrepompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2009); and At the Very Center of Attention, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2006).
Sosnowska represented Poland in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007 and has presented her work in the Biennale’s Arsenale exhibition (2011, 2003). She has completed public art commissions including: FIR TREE, Public Art Fund, New York (Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park) (2012); The Wind House, Primrose Hill, Camden (part of Portavilion) (2008). In Spring 2017 Sosnowska participated in the Sharjah Biennial 13. Sosnowska’s site-specific installation Stairs (2016—2017) was unveiled at Muzeum Susch, Switzerland in early 2019.
Press release courtesy The Modern Institute.