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Cafe Bar (2011 – 2018)
Navigating across 20th-century art and social history, fashion and design, Paulina Ołowska teases out and juxtaposes selected phenomena, trends and epochal figures. Her room in Susch appears as space seemingly out of time, a café in a remote mountain village that has just closed for the season.
At the heart of this multifaceted installation is the reincarnation of a failed café project comissioned by one of Poland’s largest institutions, The National Museum in Kraków. Ołowska came across archival materials concerning the museum café, designed in the 1960s, and only opened in the 1990s. She discovered that although it was a flop with museumgoers, it was fairly popular amongst museum staff. Its only ostensive trace when the artist visited the museum was the logo with a steaming coffee cup – this sign now takes centre stage in the large composition of four painted panels reflected in a glass floor in dialogue with the reflections of smaller paintings installed in the underside of original furniture designed for the café that Ołowska retrieved, restored and altered.
For Cafe Bar at Muzeum Susch the artist has created a space replete with references: the images on the walls, alluding to the early 20th-century Polish avant-garde, were originally conceived in collaboration with artist Lucy McKenzie as posters for a pop-up bar the two ran briefly in Warsaw in 2003 – here, the designs were executed in the locally-popular sgraffito technique. Above the door is a quote in Rumansch Vallader from Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar.