Mirosław Bałka

Mirosław Bałka

Sculptor, creator of installations, one of the most eminent and best-known Polish contemporary artists. He studied from 1980 to 1985 at the Department of Sculpture at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He earned his degree at the studio of Professor Jan Kucza in 1985. Since the beginning of his artistic career, his work and his personality have inspired both enthusiasm and controversy. He began with the figurative sculptures Pamiątka Pierwszej Komunii (Souvenir of the First Communion, 1985), Zła Nowina (Bad News, 1986), and Pasterka (Midnight Mass, 1989). He represented Poland in the Venice Biennale (1990 and 1995), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1998), and the Liverpool Biennale (1999). Mirosław Bałka’s work is found in the largest international collections of art, including the Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington), Tate Gallery (London), Museet for Samtid-kunst (Oslo), Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Muzeum of Art (Łódź). In 1995 he received the Paszport Polityki award for original artwork. He is the author of a monument to the victims of the ferry Estonia, built in 1998 in Stockholm. In 2008 he represented Wrocław in the exhibition entitled Jetzt (alluding to the poetry of Paul Celan). It was made up mainly of the newest video works by the artist, including Primitive, a three-second long, looped fragment of a statement by Franz Suchomel, SS Komendant, recorded for Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah and I Knew It Had a 4 in It. This last work is a projection of a growing and shrinking numeral 4, displayed to the music, The All of Everything by Sun Ra. Bałka’s inspiration for it was an interview that Lanzmann conducted with the wife of one of the executioners in a concentration camp, who could not remember if there were forty thousand or, perhaps, four hundred thousand victims killed there. In October 2009 Bałka presented his spectacular installation in the Turbine Hall of the London Tate Modern Gallery as a part of the Unilever Series project. How It Is is an enormous metal container, supported on metal beams, 13 metres high, 10 metres wide, and 30 metres deep. The exhibit was the subject of tremendous interest. At the Conrad Festival he took part in the meeting with the author of Melancholia sprzeciwu (The Melancholy of Resistance, 1989), who also wrote the text for the catalogue to Bałka’s recent exhibit at the Tate Modern.