For Alicja Kwade’s (b.1979, Katowice, Poland) first project for a major UK gallery, unveiled on Wednesday 28 September, the Berlin-based artist creates a captivating installation of astronomical data and our position in the universe.
A 21st century mobile, featuring twenty-four electronic star charts, revolves at the centre of the installation. Slowly orbiting each other in a three-dimensional composition, the devices evoke kinetic sculpture and occasionally align in the formation of the constellation Cassiopeia.
As the sky charts receive information from GPS satellites showing the current locations of stars, they also vocalise in unison a reading of passages from Genesis. Directly connected to the universe, the screens become windows into a starry Milky Way, positioning the viewer at the centre.
Surrounding the mobile, Kwade has placed several large bronze casts reminiscent of Modernist sculpture. Their biomorphic shapes are echoed in the artist’s projection of an ambiguous mass rotating in a black void.
Daniel F. Hermann, Eisler Curator and Head of Curatorial Studies said: “Since 2005, artist commissions have been a core part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme that provides a vital forum for the development of artists’ practice. Alicja Kwade’s work represents some of the most interesting developments in sculpture today – with meticulous attention to detail and a sincere appreciation for craftsmanship and quality of materials, her work emphasises the skill that is necessary to give artistic form to philosophical inquiry. We’re delighted to premier her work to the UK audience this autumn.”
Alicja Kwade said: “Material objects are events in time. I am interested in understanding how time operates and how we, in our own lifespan, are also part of these occurring events.”
Alicja Kwade’s sculptures often defy the conventional understanding of time and space: concrete columns melt in the sun, bicycles bend around themselves and everyday objects seem to take on a life of their own. From manipulating the mechanical workings of a clock, to creating liquid pools of mirrored glass, Kwade transforms common materials into extraordinary artworks that challenge our perceptions. Her diverse sculptures are inspired by the intangible ways we try to make sense of the modern world, from theories of astrophysics to stock market analysis.
Alicja Kwade’s new Commission is on display in Gallery 2, a dedicated space for site-specific works of art until 25 June 2017.