Alina Szapocznikow. Awkward Objects
design Ludovic Balland
Seen as a great artist in Poland, elsewhere Alina Szapocznikow has remained relatively unknown. Today she enjoys the status of a discovery, her sculpture entering museum collections worldwide, an interesting challenge to art historians and curators.
An artist who always put herself in the difficult position of pioneer heading towards the new and unknown, in 1972, near the end of her life, she confessed: "As for me, I produce awkward objects." Here that life and work is addressed by participants in the conference organized by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw: Manuela Ammer, Marta Dziewańska, Jola Gola, Agata Jakubowska, Anke Kempkes, Paweł Leszkowicz, Griselda Pollock, Tomáš Pospiszyl, Anda Rottenberg, Sarah Wilson, and Ernst van Alphen. The photographs of Szapocznikow’s sculptures and visual archival materials construct an important part of the book.
Understanding and supporting the interest in Szapocznikow, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw has undertaken challenge of a wide-ranging project which included the organization of an exhibition of the artist’s awkward objects (“Awkward Objects. Alina Szapocznikow and Maria Bartuszova, Pauline Boty, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Paulina Ołowska”, 2009) as well as an international conference (“Alina Szapocznikow: Works. Documents. Interpretations”, 2009) and a digitalization of the sculptor’s archives. The huge body of material at hand—research, visual and interpretational—that has been gathered as a result, served as inspiration to organize the first extensive exhibition of Szapocznikow abroad since her death in 1973 (“Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone (1955–1972)” is organized by WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels, and the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and will be shown in this institutions in 2011-2013). This is the fulfillment of the efforts of a whole group of art historians of different generations, who have for years been trying to draw the attention of the international audience to the extraordinary oeuvre of this Polish artist.