Plastic Bodyworlds

Upon entering I find myself in a room full of more or less one hundred sculptures that were manufactured at the Deutsche Guggenheim since the exhibition started on October 28th. All together, impressively without barriers, it looks like a white forest has taken possession of the space.

I wander through the first section of these strange trees with sleeping human faces. They are facing a large glass cube in which two young girls are busy working around a dentist chair, making a cast of an old women’s face. Instruments, bowls of liquids, papers and stocks of plastic negatives showing peoples facial expressions fill the rest of the glass cage. What a weird art testing lab – I think – while making my way through the sculptures.

Like a plastic fantasy version of bodyworlds

Fragile and magic, some sculptures create tangible situations, others invoke real dream characters, such as angels, or fantasy creatures from other worlds. The opened bodies made of plastic strips and diverse plastic objects appear flimsy and instable, some of them resemble mummies, or humans with visible muscles, giving the sculptures the appearance of death masks.

I need a break

After walking among the white woods I’m not yet ready to return to the real world, so I stop for a coffee in the museum cafe and pleasantly discover that it’s located in a cosy bookshop which offers the opportunity to browse through all kinds of magazines and art books. I dive into a universe of polish contemporary art. From personal introspection to an encompassing world wide view, I take a look at the artist catalogue and feel refreshed by the project: the Deutsche Guggenheim is no longer a place where art is only exhibited, but is actually created.

A combination of industrial production and creative individuality

Althamer was inspired while working at Almech, his father’s plastics factory in a Warsaw suburb, where he worked in recent years learning industrial techniques, combining them with his artistic process.

Probably the one an only entrance of a manufactury at Unter den Linden boulevard. Photo: Mathias Schormann © Pawel Althamer, Deutsche Guggenheim 2011

Mixing and confusing the roles of artists and spectators, he has changed the principle of an art exhibition, making collaboration and interaction with the spectators the main subject of the show.

All the faces are representations of real people, people that were randomly chosen among the workers of the museum, people who applied on internet, or simply residents of Berlin. Interaction is fundamental for the final outcome, and seeing how eagerly people push their nose against the transparent subdivisions in the exhibition hall to observe the production  process, Althamer seems to have succeeded in his intent.

  • Deutsche Guggenheim, Pavel Althamer, “Almech”, Octobe 28th – January 16th 2012, Monday – Sunday 10am – 8pm