Those who visit the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin these days might be a little confused by the sign above the entrance. What is Almech? Well, this is the name of the company of Polish artist Paweł Althamer’s father Adam Althamer. For his Deutsche Guggenheim commission, Paweł Althamer relocated the factory and transformed the museum’s exhibition space into a manufacturing facility. At the same time, he rebranded the buildings – the factory in Wesoła, Poland now has a sign that reads Deutsche Guggenheim.
VernissageTV attended the press preview and the opening of Paweł Althamer’s show in Berlin. In this video, the curator of the exhibition, Nat Trotman (Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York) talks about the concept of the show and tells the exciting story of Adam Althamer’s entrepreneurial activities after the reforms in Poland.
For his work for the Deutsche Guggenheim Paweł Althamer has fused two trends in his artistic practice, performance and sculpture. It’s an exhibition-in-progress based on the collaboration and participation of both the production team, as well as the public. Visitors and staff members of the museum will be able to have casts made of their faces. The masks will be mounted on steel skeleton figures. Paweł Althamer and his team will then use the plastic strips produced by the machines to drape the figures and create the sculptures.
At the opening reception of the exhibition, most of the sculptures were still mere skeletons. By the end of the show there will be about hundred finished sculptures. Visitors that want to participate in the project and become a work of art by letting their face being cast and incorporated into a sculpture can apply on site or online.
The idea of collaboration is very important to Paweł Althamer. Since the early 1990s he has been cooperating with an organization in Warsaw for adults with mental or physical disabilities. He realized a massive group performance using his neighbor’s apartments, organized trips with his family and friends, and turned over his exhibition at Museum Fridericianum in Kassel to the city’s schoolchildren. At the same time he created a rich sculptural oeuvre, focusing especially on portraits of himself and family members.
Paweł Althamer was born in 1967. He studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts between 1988 and 1993, earning a degree in sculpture. In 2000 he participated in Manifesta 3 in Ljublijana, Slovenia. In 2004 he won the Vincent Award. In 2010 he received the Kunstpreis Aachen. Paweł Althamer lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. The exhibition Almech at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin runs until January 16, 2011.
Paweł Althamer: Almech. Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin. Press preview and opening reception, October 27, 2011. Introduction by Nat Trotman (Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York).
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