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The Order of Things
February 22 – April 20, 2013
530 West 21st Street
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Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present a new large-scale installation by Miroslaw Balka. Employing non-traditional art materials, Balka has created a monumental work that draws on historical tragedy to reflect on the limits of the world, continuity, and catastrophe. Balka transformed the 21st Street gallery space, constructing a private room in which to encounter his work and creating an intimate atmosphere for viewers to contemplate the massive, elegiac sculpture before them. Meditating on trauma, the discourse of nature, and the resulting wounds of historical events, the work encourages viewers to confront the past and to bear witness to the events that have come to define our present.

Over the course of the past thirty years, Balka has created a diverse body of work that engages notions of historical memory, the limits of representation, and the power and veracity of language. Encompassing installation, sculpture and video, Balka’s oeuvre has a bare and minimalist quality, exhibiting a particular sensitivity to materials that generate multilayered associations for the viewer as witness. Balka utilizes symbolic abstraction rather than discrete monument to address places and events sometimes related to the legacy of Nazi occupation in Poland and to investigate notions of trauma and collective memory.

For “The Order of Things,” Balka contemplates both the possibility for and the limits of language and structural representation as a means for understanding history and its aftermath. Looking at the way conventions of truth and cultural discourse shift over time, Balka explores the limitations of our usual modes of classification and depiction, moving beyond them to introduce the viewer to new modes of thought.

Miroslaw Balka was born in 1958 in Warsaw and was raised in Otwock, Poland, where he kept his studio until recently. Balka now lives and works in Warsaw. He has been the subject of many solo exhibitions at international venues, including Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; K21, Dusseldorf, Germany; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Museet for Samtidskunst, Oslo; IVAM, Centre Del Carme, Valencia; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld; and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. Balka has also been included in a number of important group exhibitions, including: “The Carnegie International 1995,” Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany; The 44th, 50th and 51th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy; The 9th and 15th Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia; and the 2006 SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Balka was awarded the 2009—2010 Unilever Tate Turbine Hall commission at Tate Modern, and in 2011 was included in the exhibition “Ostalgia” at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.