Not a Metaphorical Forest
February 4 - March 12, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, February 4, 6-8 PM
CANADA is pleased to present Not a Metaphorical Forest, a solo exhibition by Joanna Malinowska. Under the guise of humor and makeshift formal arrangements, the artist reflects on the complex and highly paradoxical relations humans often have with the natural world. Her perspectives range from playful to grim to apocalyptic.
The central piece of the exhibition, Still Life, represents an attempt to reconstruct a beaver habitat. “With their essentialist, no fuss construction methods, beavers are amazing sculptors and architects,” explains Malinowska. Aiming to emulate the resourcefulness of the animals that inspired it, the installation is chiefly built out of discarded Christmas trees that dominated the cityscape of New York in January. Amid the logs of the installation rests a partly defrosted figure (climate change?), lying belly up, reminiscent of Hugo Ball in his iconic costume from the 1916 performance Karawane. The artist's inclusion of this figure, who is considered by Malinowska as a patron saint of rebellion, seems to miraculously appear from the heap of logs, perhaps presented as a much-needed respite in these current times.
In His Worshipers Worship a Phantom, a series of nine watercolors, Malinowska has created a storyboard from an excerpt from Thomas Bernhard’s novel The Loser. The passage describes a fictionalized Glenn Gould chopping down an ash tree that was supposedly obstructing his piano practice, when he could have simply drawn the curtains in his room in order to block the tree from his view. Malinowska was struck by the text due to the farcical yet existential quality of this episode, seeing it as a condensed representation of the general human condition.
Another group of works on paper continue to revolve around the subject of fallen trees, which have been displaced due to human activity, otherwise demolished by natural disasters (such as the mysterious Tunguska Blast in Siberia from 1908). Many of these works draw upon the artist’s recent experience of spending time in Maine.
In Weapons of Mass Destruction, the artist continues to explore her interest in “leaning” sculptures. The ensemble of simple clay forms includes a sickle - a semi-circular agricultural tool known to humankind since the Neolith, before it became universally associated with the former Soviet Union. The sculpture is a darkly humorous take on the famous assertion by Albert Einstein regarding types of weapons that would be used in the hypothetical world war IV.
A copy of The Brothers Karamazov is used by Malinowska to create a shape-shifting sculpture formed by the pages of the book, which have been shredded and held in place with hairspray and the force of gravity. The precariousness of this work stands in opposition to the brutal shredding process, and also alludes to the artist’s continuing interest in the pile format.
The final work on view is a black and white video, Of Beasts and Men, comprised of found footage obtained from various online sources that has been manipulated to look historical. It captures intimate, unrestrained encounters between people and wild animals (wolves, bears, foxes). These scenes are briefly interrupted by a brutal sequence of a bear being shot. The piece was made in collaboration with C.T. Jasper, with whom Malinowska frequently works, most notably on Halka/Haiti 18°48'05"N 72°23’01"W presented in the Polish Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Malinowska's projects have been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, at venues such as the Sculpture Center, Art in General, Postmasters, and CANADA in New York; Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Paris; Saatchi Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary in Great Britain; Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan; Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and Zachęta—National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. She was also included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Her most recent museum presentation was Relations Disrelations (2015), a two-person survey show with C.T. Jasper at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland. Malinowska and Jasper continue to collaborate, and are currently working on their next series of projects.
A graduate of the sculpture departments at Rutgers University and Yale School of Art, Malinowska has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, among others. Her work is included in the collections of the Saatchi Collection in London, Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and Takashi Murakami’s Collection in Japan.