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ART: Pawel Althamer’s Labyrinth

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To know Pawel Althamers installment piece, entitled “Brodno People,” is to know Althamer himself. That is to say, the piece is a veritable labyrinth (minus Jareth the Goblin King), each avenue personifying some disparate quality of Althamer and his work.

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Althamer’s exploits are well documented in Warsaw, Poland. He is known for his sculptures (most notably, his various self-portraits) and his performance art, which often include the use of hallucinogenic drugs. He proves to be an odd mix. He represents a new brand of Futurism, one that doesn’t simply demolish museums or art gallerys, but challenges them by remodeling their space into waiting rooms or decompression chambers. His numerous self-portraits, and his art in general, echo what sociologist Stuart Hall terms the “diaspora identity.” Such identities, according to Hall, “are producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference.” This is the transformative doctrine through which Althamer replicates himself endlessly.

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Whether “Brondo People” is illustrative of Althamer’s many identities, I cannot tell you (sorry to disappoint), though it seems to be the case. Other art World Wide Web logs are passing along the notion that this piece represents Althamer and his family. While this notion holds up considering Althamer’s body of work, there is simply not enough (say it with me now) concrete evidence to suggest that. Ultimately, though, there are some peculiarities to the work that are worth considering. The sculpture itself is said to be a re-interpretation of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. While there are plenty of differences, the most notable one is the movement. Rodin’s work is of a stationary group, not so for Althamer. Also, the fact that the march is being lead by, for lack of a better term, a robot is also rather interesting. And, lastly, the disparity between all the characters deserves attention. For, not only do they seem to be socially different, but also temporally different.

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So, I leave it you, reader. What do you think?


Scott Warfe

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