Art Factory at Unter den Linden
Pawel Althamer's "Almech" at the Deutsche Guggenheim
In Berlin, Pawel Althamer is busy producing one of his most extraordinary projects to date. The Polish artist transforms the Deutsche Guggenheim into an art factory in which life-sized sculptural portraits of exhibition visitors, artists, and curators as well as employees of Deutsche Bank, the Deutsche Guggenheim, and the Guggenheim Foundation are produced. Thus, a collective portrait accrues throughout the course of the exhibition that brings a variety of different people together.
||Almech is the title of the commissioned work that Pawel Althamer is producing for the Deutsche Guggenheim. This is also the name of his father's plastics factory, where the artist has frequently worked. The business, situated in the Warsaw suburb of Wesola, is now opening a temporary branch in Berlin, as it were: in the exhibition space at Unter den Linden, Althamer has installed machines from his father's firm on which Almech staff produce sculptural portraits of visitors, artists, and curators as well as employees of Deutsche Bank, the Deutsche Guggenheim, and the Guggenheim Foundation throughout the course of the exhibition. Day by day, new specimens of the life-sized sculptures in white plastic are added. With Almech, Althamer creates both an homage to his father's firm and a monumental collective portrait that defines the Deutsche Guggenheim by its visitors. Parallel to this, the Almech headquarters in Poland are renamed the "Deutsche Guggenheim" throughout the run of the exhibition as it delivers the required parts to Berlin.
This exchange of addresses and production sites makes sense. Althamer, one of the most internationally renowned artists of his generation, has repeatedly tried out new forms of collaboration and community. His participatory projects give rise to inimitable works that enable participants and viewers to engage in unique social experiences. Since the early 1990s, Althamer has been developing collective projects involving a wide variety of different participants such as school kids, homeless people, and friends-in the form of ceramics classes for individuals suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, or art trips with his neighbors from Brodno, the Warsaw pre-fab apartment projects. The group has even traveled overseas: dressed in golden astronauts' suits, the travelers boarded a charter flight to Mali in order to establish contact with the Dogon people there who had allegedly had contact with extraterrestrials. In addition, they traveled to Brasilia, Oxford, and the Atomium in Brussels.
Althamer's projects might seem extravagant, but the 1967-born artist always reflects upon social processes and calls upon the viewer to interact with the works. In this sense, Almech becomes an experience that crosses the boundary between art and life-a collaborative project in which every visitor to the Deutsche Guggenheim can take part.
Follow the project live in the Internet and become a work of art yourself: each visitor is invited to apply online to become a part of Almech in the form of a sculpture. More information here
Pawel Althamer: Almech
10/28/2011 - 1/16/2012
Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin
The catalogue to Almech will come out at the end of November. The richly illustrated volume traces every stage of the project from the preparatory works in Almech to the start of production of the "art factory" in the Deutsche Guggenheim. Readers who reserve their copy of the catalogue in time have a chance at a special edition: each of the first hundred copies ordered will receive a card hand-signed by Pawel Althamer.
Pawel Althamer: Almech
120 pages, 70 color plates, price: 35 €
Orders for a signed catalogue can be placed directly in the Deutsche Guggenheim Shop, by phone at +49 (0)30-20 20 93 16, or by mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org