Monika Sosnowska

Installation view, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow, 2012
The Modern Institute, 14–20 Osborne Street, Glasgow

The Modern Institute are delighted to present an exhibition of new work by Monika Sosnowska, the Polish artist’s first exhibition in Scotland since 2008.

Sosnowska creates minimal architectonic structures that respond to the social, political, and psychological use of space. Her works are influenced by the Socialist construction dominant within former Communist Eastern European states, and inherent to the environment the artist herself grew up in. The stark building style, shaped by politically charged systems, has now become an expression of stagnation, a factor, which Sosnowska rekindles within her work.

Following a line of enquiry that straddles the space between architecture and sculpture, Sosnowska’s practice, is typified by a manipulation of form and function. She utilises architectural constructs that are reminiscent of institutional buildings and spaces – fire exits, stairways, platforms, balustrades — shapes that are uniformly predetermined. Beginning from fabricated replicas of these existing structures, Sosnowska plays with their materiality, pulling and pushing, forcing these forms to collapse, twist, invert and distort. The resultant reconfiguration has misshapen them far beyond use — the space they now occupy dictates their function and autonomy.

For her third exhibition at The Modern Institute, Sosnowska will be installing four large-scale sculptures, made from concrete and metal. These individual structures will be placed across the floor of the gallery space, appearing as if single parts of a disparate scene. Two of these works are direct copies of architectural components from the disused Ursus Factory in Warsaw. Founded c.1893, the Ursus factory once produced tractors and other industrial machinery. The factory held a political resonance during the 1970s and 80s when its workers were a main part of the ‘Solidarity Movement’ in Poland. One of Sosnowska’s sculptures replicates the fragment of a ramp from the factory, but is austerely different, coated in black paint; it has been twisted and curled, left discarded on the floor. Another imitates the metal entrance way, but has been squeezed and then expanded, forced into a concertina shape, referencing the zig-zag fire escape stairways as generic architectural tropes.

Stripped of their original function and left in a parasitical state, Sosnowska’s sculptures are lesson in compliance, alluding to the prescribed conformity of the spaces they reference.