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Miroslaw Balka, BlueGasEyes, 2004, steel, salt, sound, two DVD projections, 3 min. 37 sec., 2x (170 x 126 x 5cm)
University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with generous support from the Polish Cultural Institute in New York,


Thursday, February 5, 2009 - Sunday, March 29, 2009

Opening: Thu., February 5,5-7:30 PM
In Conversation: Wed., March 11, 5 PM
see program details below

University Gallery, Fine Arts Center
University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA
Admission: free, Tel: 413.545.3670. Directions
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 11-4:30, Sat.-Sun. 2-5

The exhibition "Miroslaw Balka: Gravity" shows a selection of recent video works by the internationally acclaimed Polish sculptor. Guest curated by Gregory Salzman, this is the artist's first solo American museum exhibition to focus on his new video installations.

Thursday, February 5: Opening

5:00 PM Exhibition Preview

5:30-6:30 PM In Conversation: Miroslaw Balka and Barbara London, Curator of media, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; moderated by Barton Byg, Professor, German & Scandinavian Studies, founding director of DEFA Film Library, UMass

6:30-7:30 PM Reception

Wednesday, March 11, 5:00 PM

In Conversation: Catherine Portuges, Professor, Comparative Literature, Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies; Jenny Perlin, Five College Visiting Artist in Film Studies; and James E. Young, Chair of the Judaic & New Eastern Studies Dept., Professor, English and Judaic Studies; in a discussion on the work of Miroslaw Balka at the forefront of interdisciplinary contemporary art and thought

MIROSLAW BALKA uses simple means to film everyday scenes and moments, most of them observations of details which go on to assume a mysterious and poetic dimension in his films. Tiny events produce images of great intensity, which touch upon fundamental human experiences, fears and hopes. Many of the projections have small sculptural additions that give them a concrete place in the exhibition space and involve the ephemeral medium of video in a physical reality.

Born in 1958 in Warsaw, notions of history and the residue of memory weigh heavily in Balka's approach to art. Growing up in Catholic Poland under a Socialist regime where Western popular icons were rejected, the artist recalls that his childhood heroes were saints and martyrs. He was the grandson of a funerary-monument sculptor, and the son of a master masonry craftsman. These religious and familial traditions lend his work a pervading sense of sacredness, a somber view of history and the individual's relationship to it.

His poetic works, recalling the tragedies of European history such as the Holocaust, memorialize events through symbolic abstraction rather than discrete monument. His video works of memory and forgetfulness, presence and absence, meditate on what history leaves behind and ties it to the body and the memory of those living in the present.

Miroslaw Balka's work has been the subject of many one-person exhibitions internationally, including the Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo; IVAM, Centre Del Carme, Valencia; Kunsthalle Bielefeld; Centre d'art contemporain, Thiers; Tate Gallery, London; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld; and Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. Miroslaw Balka represented Poland at the 1993 Venice Biennale. He lives and works in Warsaw.

A brochure will be published with an essay by Barbara London, curator of media, Museum of Modern Art, and an interview between Balka and curator Gregory Salzman.

The University Gallery gratefully acknowledges support from the Polish Cultural Institute, New York; the Fine Arts Center Friend's Artist Residency Fund, the Walter Raleigh Amesbury, Jr., and Cecile Dudley Amesbury Professorship for Teaching and Research in Polish Language, Literature and Culture; and assistance from the Gladstone Gallery, New York, and White Cube, London.

An Evening with Miroslaw Balka at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

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