Hauser & Wirth to Present Monika Sosnowska's TOWER, 9/5-25
Hauser & Wirth is proud to present Monika Sosnowska's Tower, a mammoth new work that conjoins architecture and sculpture in order to explore the politics and poetics of space. Known for large-scale, site-specific installations, Sosnowska creates psychologically charged art rooted in existing structures and influenced by the built environment. She manipulates forms - collapsing, twisting, and squeezing steel - into disorienting configurations that not only alter perceptions of physical space but challenge our certainties about memory and our assumptions about societal structures.
Tower will be on view from 5 September through 25 October at Hauser & Wirth's downtown gallery at 511 West 18th Street.
For over a decade, Monika Sosnowska has amassed a documentary archive of visual material, mostly photographs made during her walks around her native Warsaw. Recording the conditions of everyday life in Poland, she captures architectural details and structures - workshops, apartment blocks, abandoned buildings, demolition sites, forgotten places - that reflect the heritage, upheaval, stagnation, and rebuilding of the city and the nation's Communist past. Imbuing a kind of cultural memory in her oeuvre, Sosnowska makes sculpture that manifests recollections, both individual and collective, that collide where "architectural space begins to take on the characteristics of mental space." Her formal language echoes different contradictory modernisms: that of Polish constructivism of the 1930s, the minimal and conceptual tendencies of international art from the 1960s and 1970s, and the Socialist architecture found in Eastern European states.
With Tower at Hauser & Wirth, Sosnowska takes on the International Style. Measuring approximately 110 feet in length, this sprawling work is inspired specifically by the design principles of German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the 20th century's Ur- Modernist, and makes reference to the iconic International Style trope he elevated to sheer physical poetry: the glass curtain wall. With Tower, Sosnowska quotes the steel framework underlying the hung glass fac?ade of Mies van der Rohe's Chicago masterpiece, the Lake Shore Drive Apartments, abstracting, disfiguring and bending that framework into a fallen monument. Unmoored from its rational geometry, Tower stretches and curves across the gallery's vast exhibition space. Through Sosnowska's re-imagining, a coolly elegant, machined, and perfectly readable structure is transformed into something wholly opposite.
Completed in 1951, the Lake Shore Drive Apartments are among the most striking examples of the radicalization of Bauhaus ideology. These 26-story skyscrapers are robust steel-framed structures wrapped in deceptively sumptuous materials - floating mantles of steel and diaphanous glass - in a synthesis of aesthetics and technology. At the time of their completion, Mies van der Rohe's residential towers were among the most expensive ever built, vivid symbols of the imaginative forces driving American capitalism. The transparency of the International Style expressed a dream of societal openness that, when deployed in such a refined and luxurious manner, translated into an expression of power and prosperity. Meanwhile, Mies' elegant statement stood in stark juxtaposition to the ways in which the very same architectural style figured in the creation of a new social order in Poland under Soviet rule.