Skontrum - Ancient Sculpture Collection Reinvented
Nicolas Grospierre, from the series "Typologies", 2011 (copy acc. to Jakub Monaldi, "Portrait of Stefan Czarnecki", between 19th and 20th c., gilded bronze
Bringing new life to historical pieces of art, three artists reinvent the ancient collection of statues of the Warsaw National Museum by photographing them outside of the warhehouse and the gallery and creating stories that unveil a vision of a mysterious and dark side of the museum’s history
Young Polish video artist and photographer Agnieszka Polska, Jan Szewczyk and French-born artist based in Warsaw Nicolas Grospierre present their contemporary visions on the historical sculpture archive of Warsaw's most prominent art institution. Created at the beginning of the XIXth century, the size of the collection at Warsaw’s National Museum, has expanded into chaotic dimensions. The Skontrum project, named after the procedures related to the inventorisation of archives, brings order into the chaos and reinvents the collection through the eyes of young artists. The renovation procedures were filmed by Jan Szewczyk. Acquired, counted, renovated, transported and stored, the works of art underwent numerous procedure to retain their position in the collection.
Nicolas Grospierre, a prominent photographer of architecture and places characterised by a specific nostalgia, has taken on the task of photographing the seemingly sleeping statues that dwell in the storage. He reinvents the significance of the statues by transporting them into different situations and placing them in the public arena, in popular meeting places such as the Royal Łazienki Park.
With the use of documents, photographs and notes Agnieszka Polska creates new stories that are loosely based on the chronological story of the museum's collection that begins during the excavations in Egypt in the 1930ties. Leaving the chronology behind, she arranges materials thematically to unveil a vision of a mysterious and dark side of the museum’s history.
Symbolising the breadth of the collection, the building of the Xavery Dunikowski Sculpture Museum, a branch of the National Museum in Warsaw, is filled with as many pieces as it can possibly hold - figures of Christian saints, mythological heroes, aristocrats and statesmen. Certain elements of these works have been broken over the years - many statues are missing noses and limbs. There is no background information provided for the works - there are no details about the artists' names or the period each work was made in. They are freed of their political context. Instead, visitors find a mix of curious characters, encouraged to form their own narrative. Curator of the exhibition Agnieszka Tarasiuk, explains that:
The sculptures in the exhibition form a mysterious crowd and this is what we aimed to show at the exhibition. We're not, however, showing any of the abstract works contained within the collection or purely conceptual works. We've brought together all that fits within the idea of 'figurative sculpture'.
Editor: Marta Jazowska