For "Sculpture Projects Münster 07", Pawel Althamer will construct a path. Starting where a footpath and bicycle trail meet in a municipal recreation area, Althamer's path will lead, through meadows and fields, out of the city. Just short of one kilometre, however, it will abruptly end in the middle of a field of barley.
Photo Roman Mensingsp07The Skulptur Pprojekte Münster 07 will take place for the fourth time in the summer of 2007. The exhibition will present the works of 35 artists from all over the world. The curators are Kasper König, Brigitte Franzen and Carina Plath. The fourth international Skulptur Pprojekte Münster 07 opens in the summer of 2007. Since 1977 this large exhibition invites artists from all over the world to create new work in the city of Münster.
For Sculpture Projects Münster 07, Pawel Althamer
will construct a path. Starting where a footpath and bicycle trail meet in a municipal recreation area near Lake Aa, Althamer's path will lead, through meadows and fields, out of the city. Just short of one kilometre, however, it will abruptly end in the middle of a field of barley. Surprised that the trail has suddenly ended, visitors will have to decide how to react upon this open situation and how to return to the city.
Althamer's idea for this project stems from his observation of how pedestrians and bicyclists here strictly obey the signs designating their respective paths, conforming to regulations in a way that appears unusually stringent to the average Polish observer. Footpaths are not used by bicyclists, and bike trails are not used by pedestrians - and it seems that no one would even consider leaving the paths themselves and walking or riding straight through the fields. With his path, Althamer is looking for a way out of these orderly circumstances. At the same time, the artist questions the obviousness of the city's network of trails by offering an alternative that refuses to comply with the system's tacitly accepted logic.
The path, whose sporadic quality distinguishes it from the more permanent paths, passes by a main road leading out of Münster and enters an agricultural area on the outskirts of the city. Simultaneously, this change of environment alters the way that the path itself is perceived, as it is transformed from an intervention in the city's existing infrastructure into an adventurous way out of the routines of everyday urban living. Reminiscent of walks taken during childhood, the trail leads visitors into the countryside, past a small woodland area and across a stream - highlighting precisely the natural qualities that we often no longer perceive in our media-saturated world. At the place where it abruptly ends, the trail challenges visitors' ability to make a decision, to face the situation at hand, and to assume responsibility for themselves. The special appeal of this work lies in its capacity to change familiar patterns of action and create an open-ended situation in which visitors can - and, indeed, have to - renegotiate possibilities. It is work that, for the duration of the exhibition, will continually change and grow as each visitor takes his or her own individual decision.
Pawel Althamer combines in his work aspects of classical sculpture, e.g. in his life-size figurative self-portrait made of hair and wax (1993), the characteristics of installations, and social elements. He frequently incorporates familiar everyday situations into new contexts, to cause shifts in interpretation. In 1994, he asked the museum attendants in an art gallery in Warsaw which objects would make their working day more pleasant, and then furnished seats, a radio, a potted plant and soft drinks.
People of the underprivileged classes play a major role in Althamer's works. He focuses on the artificiality of their involuntary difference. For Dancers (1997) he has a group of homeless people in a white, brightly lit room, to take each other's hands and dance in a circle. The dancers are naked, and without their clothes, they no longer reveal their social category. They could not be identified as homeless. Their dance became purely an expression of being human.
Althamer's creations can be seen as a new form of realism, that developed in Poland and other former East Block countries in the course of the political transformations of the early 1990s. Divested of their traditional patterns of orientation, artists, like Althamer, examine the world they live in and its values.
Sculpture Projects Münster 07 opens on June 16, 2007 and runs parallel with the Documenta in Kassel, from June 17 to September 30, 2007. For one hundred days, the exhibition will put its stamp on the city and the region. In 1997 more than 500.000 visitors came to Muenster to see the work of artists from 25 countries. This large attendance certainly raises similar expectations for 2007.
The curators Prof. Kasper König (Museum Ludwig, Cologne) and Dr. Brigitte Franzen (Westphalian State Museum, Muenster), and Associate Curator Dr. Carina Plath (Westphalian Art Association, Muenster) have invited 37 artists to participate in the exhibition.