Mirosław Bałka, Audi HBE F144, 2008, video, 40 s, coll. Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow
The smoke rising into the sky, a smoke signal, the truck driver is trying to recreate the popular lullaby "AAA, Two Little Kittens". This kitschy lullaby image, exhibiting together with the "Audi HBEF144" and the "bottom," takes on a terrifying and awesome quality.
Since the end of the 1980s, Bałka has been active internationally on the themes of life and death, physicality and memory. His works are sometimes called memory sculptures, and since the 2000s, many highly symbolic works that make full use of video have been seen. "Audi HBEF144" is a slide show consisting of 20 shots from a TV screen showing Benedict XVI's visit to Auschwitz. An Audi, a German car, moves slowly through the camp blocks, surrounded by a cordon of security. The Pope does not get out of the car and is not seen - it seems to convey the fear and solemnity that the German Pope might be feeling in a place of mourning for the victims of the Holocaust.
Projected on the floor are the showers in a Nazi concentration camp, the site of the murder of tens of thousands of people by poison gas. After the massacre, the bodies were collected and burned in the gas chambers. The smoke continued to rise day and night... It is as if we are witnessing the Holocaust, and the historical memories of darkness, horror, and genocide come back to life with a new dimension, sharply pressing on those of us who live today.
Mirosław Bałka was born in 1958 in Warsaw, Poland. He lives and works in Otwock, Poland, and Oliva, Spain. He is a sculptor also active in the field of experimental video and drawing. In 1985 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where since 2011 he has run the Studio of Spatial Activities in the Faculty of Media Art. Between 1986 and 1989 together with Miroslaw Filonik and Marek Kijewski he established the artistic group Consciousness Neue Bieremiennost. Awarded the Mies van der Rohe Stipend by Krefeld Kunstmuseen. He is a member of Akademie der Künste, Berlin. Miroslaw Balka has participated in major exhibitions worldwide including: Venice Biennale (1990, 2003, 2005, 2013; representing Poland in 1993), documenta IX, Kassel (1992), Sydney Biennale (1992, 2006), The Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1995), Sao Paulo Biennale (1998), Liverpool Biennial (1999), Santa Fe Biennale (2006). In 2009 he presented the special project How It Is for the Unilever Series, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London.
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