#photography & visual arts
small, Black Pope, Piotr Uklański, "Untitled" (Jan Paweł II), MSN collection, Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art, uklanski_papiez_7007781.jpg
Year 2004. A Polish artist, Piotr Uklański, rolled up sleeves to prepare a completely different portrait of Pope.
It was the same Pope who Mehmet Ali Ağca drew a bead on – John Paul. The portrait was supposed to be made of living people – 3,500 Brazilian soldiers were places next to each other, so that on a vast expanse of land their bodies would form the Pope’s profile. When the photo was taken from above, one could see a dark outline of the Pope because the soldiers were dark-skinned. Soon after the photo was exhibited at the intersection of the Marszałkowska and Swietokrzyska Streets in Warsaw in 2005, the Catholic world was hit by a painful message. The Pope died. Crowds visited the museum space where Piotr Uklański's work was presented. They left flowers and recalled him in their prayers. Is that so that life was ahead of art? Art scored a goal against life. Is that so that they never split up and are inseparable?
Does Work Make You Free?
Year 2009. The metal gate sign of the Auschwitz concentration camp saying Arbeit macht frei (Work brings freedom) went missing some time ago. The theft was ordered by a neo-Nazi group from Sweden. As soon as this rumour spread, the sign was found in the middle of a deserted forest, divided into three parts. Work looks to one side, freedom to the other. Artist Jonathan Horowitz decided to do this monument again, weaving it from the letters of this tragic and unforgettable event in the history of mankind, and giving it the same form as it was in the forest. The rusted metal sign became a piece of art.
People seeing this in the Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art were disgruntled annoyed . Many letters were sent to the museum authorities. The letters were mostly from those, who did not want to remember, who were angry at the artist who wanted to remind them about this event, and who thought that it was him who stole the sign. Is that so the word flew away, but the sign remained? Is that so that Horowitz’s work showed that, as in line with the beliefs of the East, letters have their own voice and breath, and each of them separately constitute a symbolical sign which has a greater impact than a documentary image.
Also recommended: 21 Most Important Works from Warsaw Museum of Modern Art
Station Inventory Stock Auction
The Warsaw Centre for Architecture was created to show the Polish public that they have the right to express their opinions and to take responsibility for architectural endeavours. The association was supposed to use other means of expression, apart from book publications. It took action knowing that investors wanted to buy, and then to demolish, the socialist realistic railway station in Warsaw. It was reported to the city authorities and the centre purchased the remaining station inventory stock, such as tables and platform labels. Then they asked the most popular speaker of the Polish TV game shows (Hubert Urbański) to lead an auction. The station inventory stock was sold. If this action had not taken place, no works by Arseniusz Romanowicz would have been left. However, the remaining items from the station are now in some Warsaw private houses and bars, and even in architectural offices. These signs could be in circulation again. All this to highlight the truth that this city belongs only to its users – inhabitants of this city.
Article by Ayşegül Sönmez
Translated from Turkish by Agnieszka Ayşen Kaim and Katarzyna Wiśniewska. Edited by E.M. 16/05/2014