Magazine article Artforum International

Pawet Althamer

Magazine article Artforum International

Pawet Althamer

Article excerpt

MY PRACTICE IS FOCUSED LARGELY on mediating between the collective and the individual, so the museum plays an ambiguous role: It can either present an obstacle or serve as a productive site of interface. One of my primary objectives as an artist, therefore, is to forge alliances with institutions, temporarily channeling their potential.

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I like to think of the museum as a space station, a distant outpost inhabited by artists and scientists. Every now and then, visitors arrive and encounter gamelike situations, some of which are active, others of which are dormant. Since the scientists tend to move more slowly than the artists and visitors, the ideal station would be open and mobile, able to accommodate distance, contact, and tension among its many inhabitants.

In this sense, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw is an intriguing case. Although still under development, the museum has been operating as a full-fledged institution since 2008, holding conventional exhibitions at a temporary site but also charting unknown terrain across the city. The recent undertaking "Brodno Sculpture Park," 2009-, for example, intrudes--and, to a certain extent, trespasses--on Brodno, a low-income Warsaw neighborhood plagued by chronic unemployment and crime. In a sprawling public garden amid socialist-era housing, works by Olafur Eliasson, Monika Sosnowska, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and myself were installed last June, with additional entries by different artists planned for future years. While falling within the long tradition of sculpture gardens, the endeavor establishes a presence that, like my own practice, seeks to unobtrusively invest the location with new energy. For my contribution, I reinvented the run-down area by enlisting the help of children from one of the local primary schools; together, we planted greenery in the park based on their drawings of a "paradise land. …

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