Cologne

Miroslaw Balka

Isabella Kacprzak

What strikes one immediately upon entering the gallery with Miroslaw Balka’s works is the emptiness. In the gallery itself there seems to be nothing. The few objects displayed along the walls include: a wooden frame that could be a bed but is filled with salt; a nearly two-meter-long steel tube attached to the wall, its interior likewise filled with salt; other steel tubes of various lengths, filled with salt, salt water, or ashes. These objects produce an impression of absence marked by ascetic purity and rigor, an almost physical absence. Yet what or who is missing here remains a question for the viewer.

Balka, originally from Poland, plays on the question of the absence or presence of God; it is an existential question for him. One of his first works bears the title Pamiaytka Pierwszej Kumunii swietej (The remembrance of the first holy communion, 1985). In this sculpture, he represents

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the January 1992 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.