Monika Sosnowska: Display (5 stars)

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 8 Dec

Monika Sosnowska: Display


Stripping architecture of its purpose and concentrating purely on the aesthetic possibilities of public space, the work of Monika Sosnowska plays games with the formalities of interior construction, the Polish artist creating one large-scale intervention in every one of the gallery spaces she exhibits in.

A lengthy preamble to the piece devised for the Talbot Rice introduces us to her way of seeing. The lower floor of the gallery comprises a series of 27 architectural models, 25 of which have been realised by Sosnowska in full-size form at various gallery locations around the world. As is noted in the accompanying literature, Sosnowska’s work can by viewed as a reaction to the sterile, standardised Communist architecture of her homeland, and each of these miniature designs bursts with a playful absence of inhibition.

One room is designed so that the walls resemble a staccato scrawl, their slim corners presumably impassable by any human and their deference to the notion of usable space completely absent. Others open onto more entrances; a series of doors opening onto each other, or onto a room full of antechambers, which lead us back to the start. Some pieces – such as ‘The Hole’, a square room with the crumbled debris from a fissure in its ceiling as the centrepiece – make glaring imperfection their reason, while visual tricks abound. The one real disappointment of this show is that ‘Corridor’ – a space specially designed to artificially compress and extend our sense of perspective – cannot be seen here to the scale it was presented at 2003’s Venice Biennale.

Yet, while each of these works invites us to imagine ourselves within them, gazing up and figuring out their parameters, the untitled full creation in the gallery’s top floor allows us to finally interact with one of Sosnowska’s environments. A forest of black rubber tendrils hangs from the ceiling, each no more than a few inches apart. To walk through them, barging with your head as you must, is to lose sight of every sense but touch, and the experience is a meaningless, tactile, primally joyful one.

Monika Sosnowska: Display

  • 5 stars

Fresh from representing Poland at the Venice Biennale and from solo shows at New York's MOMA and the Serpentine Gallery in London, Sosnowska brings an exhibition of existing and newly commissioned works to Talbot Rice. The main body of 'Display' consists of 23 scale models that might be read as a fantastical architectural…


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