Sculpture park refuses to surrender to the vandals of Warsaw

Artists, curators and the community unite to create corner of paradise in rundown park

New commissions for this year’s sculpture park in the rundown Warsaw neighbourhood of Brόdno were unveiled in September despite the fact that vandals damaged works of art shortly after the garden opened last year.

The sculpture park was created as a joint initiative between Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art, Polish artist Paweł Althamer and local authorities, after Althamer, who is a resident of Brόdno, was asked to create an artistic project for the neighbourhood.

The result, Paradise, 2009, was created with the help of local children. Althamer asked them for their ideas about what paradise might look like. “While falling within the long tradition of sculpture gardens, this endeavour establishes a presence that seeks to unobtrusively invest the location with new energy,” the artist said at the time.

Within a few months of the garden’s opening, however, fellow artists’ work was damaged by vandals. Olafur Eliasson’s Negative Glacial Kaleidoscope, 2007, a buried sculpture made to look as if a star had fallen from the sky, was wrecked by a slab of pavement and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (Tilted Tea House with Coffee Machine), 2005, and Monika Sosnowska’s sculpture, Grate, 2009, were both used as a rubbish dumps.

Brόdno’s residents, however, were appalled by the destruction and the city council was able to raise enough funds to refurbish all the works. Tiravanija’s project has now been reinvented as an actual coffee shop

For the sculpture park’s second edition, internationally renowned artists convened in the neighbourhood. Althamer was involved for the second year running, presenting his most recent work, Sylwia, 2010, a reclining nude figure that

operates as a fountain for the park’s pond. The sculpture is named after a member of an art class for adults with multiple sclerosis that Althamer has taught for 15 years. Each piece of the sculpture was made by a different member of the group.

Scottish-born, Turner Prize nominee Susan Philipsz created You Are Not Alone, 2010, a sound installation that emits musical sound bites to identify particular radio stations through a concealed set of loudspeakers.

Warsaw-based artist Katarzyna Przezwańska used brightly coloured paint to highlight irregularities in the park’s ground, such as cracks and potholes.

“Our aim is to broaden the definition of sculpture not only by including different media such as paint and sound, but also by challenging what is traditionally perceived as sculpture through subtle, ephemeral pieces,” said Sebastian Cichocki, the curator at the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'No surrender to the vandals of Warsaw'