artists & participants
On February 12, the New Museum will open the first US museum exhibition devoted to the work of Paweł Althamer. Since the early 1990s, Althamer (b. 1967; Warsaw, Poland) has established a unique artistic practice and is admired for his expanded approach to sculptural representation and his experimental models of social collaboration. Althamer is predominantly known for figurative sculptures of himself, his family, and various other individuals within his community. Beyond simple portraiture, these sculptures, along with the artist's other activities, highlight the complex social, political, and psychological networks in which he operates.
The exhibition will include a new presentation of the artist's work Draftsmen's Congress. Over the course of the exhibition, the Museum's fourth-floor gallery will be transformed through the gradual accumulation of drawings and paintings by Museum visitors and more than seventy invited community organizations. Althamer and his collaborators will also activate the exhibition through a sculptural workshop.
In many of his previous museum exhibitions, Althamer has used the visibility and resources of the organizing institution to benefit different local communities. For his New York exhibition, Althamer has initiated a coat drive for the Bowery Mission, the Museum's neighboring organization, which has been serving the homeless and hungry since 1879. For the duration of the exhibition, visitors bringing new or gently used men's coats to the New Museum will receive free entry. All the coats will be donated to the Bowery Mission.
In the past, Althamer has also realized a number of projects that seek to subtly alter reality through nearly imperceptible interventions into public space. For The Neighbors, Althamer has arranged for more than fifty street musicians to play at the Museum over the course of the show, with the music being broadcast in the third-floor gallery.
The exhibition will also feature Althamer's iconic sculptures and performative videos realized alone or in cooperation with community groups with whom he has collaborated with over the past two decades. The artist's most recent body of work, Venetians, a haunting group of sculptures created for the 55th Venice Biennale in which Althamer cast the faces of various individuals he encountered on the streets of Venice, will make its US debut. The sculptures will be presented alongside Althamer's series of videos "So-Called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind" (2003–04). Produced in collaboration with artist Artur Żmijewski, these works capture Althamer as he ingests various drugs on a journey to explore the depths of his own mind. Across these varied projects, the exhibition will comprise a portrait of the artist as instigator, organizer, teacher, scientist, and visionary.
Paweł Althamer: The Neighbors is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an interview with the artist and new essays on Althamer's practice by Boris Groys, Joanna Mytkowska, and Artur Żmijewski.
Exhibition support generously provided by Susan and Leonard Feinstein, Dakis Joannou, Katherine Farley and Jerry Speyer, and VICTORIA—the Art of being Contemporary Foundation. This presentation is made possible in part through a partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York. The accompanying publication is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.
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Paweł Althamer: The Neighbors
Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari