Castello di Brolio
1 July to 14 October 2018
European ArtEast Foundation is presenting a monumental work by Magdalena Abakanowicz as part of Time is the Game of Man, the third edition of Art of the Treasure Hunt in Tuscany, Italy. The work is called Bambini and consists of a crowd of eighty-three sculptures of child figures, originally created by the artist in 1998 and 1999 for an outdoor installation at Les Jardins du Palais Royal in Paris. The piece appears alongside other artists’ visions of time, united by the theme of this year’s edition of Art of the Treasure Hunt; included are pieces by Servane Mary, Sylvie Fleury, Alin Bozbiciu, and Ibrahim Mahama. All the works are installed across six wineries in the Tuscan countryside. Art of the Treasure Hunt is produced by Luziah Hennessy. Time is the Game of Man is curated by Kasia Redzisz, Senior Curator, Tate Liverpool.
The headless crowd of children’s bodies could be interpreted as a reflection on the suffering the artist endured during the Second World War, yet today it could equally stimulate the recognition of a mass of refugees escaping the war in Syria or victims of gun crimes staging protest in America. Such is the universal power of Abakanowicz’s art that walking around Bambini can bring us to memories of forbidden individuality when one would inadvertently become part of an indistinct mass, as well as the times of communities forming when being part of the crowd meant bringing on change or at least staying safe together. Located on the terrace of Castello di Brolio, Bambini is juxtaposed with the surrounding nature, resembling an animal herd or hollow tree trunks as if the sculptures were just imprints of children, or shadows of the past. At the conclusion of experiencing the sculptural installation, it is one’s memory and individual history which will dictate the feelings, the moods, the imaginations experienced around the ambiguous creatures. Just as Abakanowicz would give Bambini multiple identities and universal meanings, each viewer will discover there is more than one self inhabiting their bodies.
Magdalena Abakanowicz (b. 1930, Falenty, Poland, d. 2017, Warsaw, Poland) was a leading Eastern-European avant-garde artist, notable for her use of textiles as a sculptural medium. European ArtEast Foundation produced a major retrospective Effigies of Life, A Tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) across multiple venues in the city of Wroclaw, Poland, in summer 2017. European ArtEast Foundation is also supporting the production of a Magdalena Abakanowicz catalogue raisoneé, joining the efforts of the artist’s husband Jan Kosmowski in creating a comprehensive index of works across private and public collections. Abakanowicz has had solo exhibitions in Wrocław, Poland (2017), Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, Milan, Italy (2009), Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2009), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2008), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA (1999), The Institute for Contemporary Art P.S.1, New York, USA (1993), Städel Art Institute, Frankfurt/Main, Germany (1989), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (1975), Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands (1969). She has represented Poland at the 1980 Venice Biennial.
ABOUT EUROPEAN ARTEAST FOUNDATION
Aiming to provide a global perspective on Eastern European art and culture, the Foundation encourages the development of projects that expand the discourse around contemporary art from this region. Despite under-representation and a lack of access to the international art world during the Soviet-era, many post-war artists still boldly developed their own vision independently from the standardized canon of Socialist Realism. The Foundation has a particular interest in encouraging the rediscovery of seminal Eastern European artists from the 1950’s and 1960’s and maintaining their legacy. It also embodies the values of patronage as a context and framework to encourage creativity, innovation and cultural production among contemporary artists.
Magdalena Abakanowicz in front of her sculptures. Courtesy the artist’s estate