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One of Poland’s preeminent contemporary sculptors, whose practice also encompasses video and drawing, Bałka employs minimal means to create works that, while often referencing his own body or his immediate environment, explore universal questions of memory, trauma and history.
Raw yet contemplative, the artist’s three-dimensional works tend to draw on an inventory of quotidian materials – including human hair, soap, ash, salt, linoleum, terrazzo and steel – which, at times, he configures into forms so understated that they appear mere shadows of real objects while, at others, devising shapes which fully inhabit and structure the exhibition space. To this end, Bałka also exploits less tangible elements, such as time (disclosed via accumulated rust or patina), movement, temperature, sound and light – or, conversely, accentuates their lack – to prompt reflections on presence and absence.
Bałka’s commission for MUZEUM SUSCH occupies one of its most extraordinary locations: a natural grotto, parts of which served as cold storage for the original inhabitants of the monastery. Revolving slowly at its centre is a cylinder, comprising several sheets of polished stainless steel, which reflects the surrounding rock formations. The incessant labour of the sculpture’s inner mechanism, propelling it anticlockwise, is a futile, obstinate gesture in the face of the onward march of time that shaped the grotto. The presence of the viewer interrupts nature’s narcissistic meditation on its own perfection, replacing it with their image and inter- posing a new temporal perspective.