Monika Sosnowska is known for her often site-specific architectural installations created by appropriating construction material to create impactful and elegant sculptures that comment on the post-war architecture of her native Poland. Showcase at Capitain Petzel Gallery, Berlin, currently presents Gate, created by manipulating an existing structure and through twisting, stretching, and resetting the initial configuration of the model, creating a new object detached from the functionality distinctive of the former gate.
This work is representative of how Sosnowska alludes to a specific socio-historical reality, to contradict the rational paradigm of modernism, and to create as a result a beautiful visual puzzle.
In recent times Sosnowska has further developed her dynamic approach to materiality in which architectural and sculptural elements are merged in disorienting new configurations. Her sculptural language emerges from a process of experimentation and the deft appropriation of core materials that are closely associated with construction, such as concrete, steel beams, pipes and reinforcing rods.
These elements, that occur at architecture’s fringes and under the skin of a building to provide support and rigidity, are manipulated and warped by Sosnowska, taking on an independence in which their former functionality is implied yet defunct. In this way, the works are precisely composed citations that speak directly to the viewer’s preconceptions, by drawing upon both the artist’s personal, and our collective, experience of the built environment as a site of memory that is adept at conveying both political and psychological significance.
The artist’s interest in the exposed architectural fragment as a poetic metaphor has its origins in her experience of the rapid transformation that consumed Sosnowska’s home town of Warsaw. By the 1960s, Warsaw’s urban environment was etched with a modernist architecture that was imbued with utopian aspirations as part of a desire to remould the city in line with a new socialist order following the devastation of World War Two.
As political power shifted from Communist to Neo-Liberal governance in Poland in the late 1980s, as the artist was coming of age, this drive for architectural order had stalled. Buildings were razed and were quickly superseded by new developments as capitalism took hold. The resulting dialectic of the construction and destruction process, along with the potential of ruin and reversal, wrought on the very fabric of the urban environment, has had a lasting resonance for the artist.
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Image // Monika Sosnowska, Gate, 2019 // Painted steel // 200 x 100 x 30 cm 78.8 x 39.4 x 11.8 inches // Installation view, Capitain Petzel, Berlin, 2021 // Photography by Jens Ziehe// Exhibition on show through 21 June 2021
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