At the Contemporary: Monika Sosnowska

We spent the evening in the halls of Monika Sosnowska’s Habitat– the latest exhibit to be presented in the newly reopened Contemporary in downtown Austin.  After an opening reception of wine and tasty treats, we followed Senior curator, Heather Pesanti, on an engaging tour of the space.  While Sosnowska was present, she didn’t speak on her work. Ms. Pesanti explained that Sosnowska doesn’t like to place the weight of the artists opinion on the meaning of a piece.  She prefers we interpret as we will.

A Poland native now residing in Warsaw, Monika Sosnowska, studied Painting in at the University of Arts in Poznań and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.  She was been awarded the Bâloise Prize and the Polityka’s Passport.  During her final years of study, she found her work evolve off the canvas and into 3-dimensional space; Her work is marked by its ability to transform an existing space, manipulate the viewers perception in such away that brings about sparks of curiosity, confusion and often contemplation.

The immersive exhibit, Habitat, expands both floors of the Contemporary making it the largest monographic exhibition for the artist in the U.S. to date.  The artist uses a lot of concrete and metal  that captures the installation’s mood of the dystopian domesticism. The walls of Antechamber on the first floor transport you to the other side of the looking glass with its discombobulating maze of slated walls.  Resting inside each little room off the main path is a sculpture by the artist.  Where unfinished walls are exposed, you feel confronted with the fact that so many of our human habitats are a manufactured facade.  While the pieces inside, demand a moment of observation and reflection on how the mangled, manipulated pieces of harsh materials manage to produce pleasantly balance, modern and beautiful visions.

The second floor is a treat with newly commissioned work that gives you a peak into Sosnowska’s process of models to finished sculpture.  Dapper Husband was smitten with the large site-specific work, the handrail.  It was the sole splash of color (red plastic covers the handrail) in the exhibit.  I found the most astounding piece to be façade.  It is a 1-to-1 replication of a building facade crumpled and folded on to itself into a massive web. It dwarfs its observers and staring into it made me feel like a child.  I wished it could climb through its tangled mass of limbs.  Also present on the second floor is the stairs– a sister piece to a sculpture found in Laguna Gloria (one of our favorite spots in the city!).

The evening was a total treat and the exhibit is worth a see if you are in the Austin area.


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