I was in Oxford over the weekend and paid a visit to Modern Art Oxford where I was welcomed by stewards in head to toe gold lamé suits - as one who considers first impressions absolute, I deterred my usual rule of thumb, politely denied to wear the golden suits on offer to the public and forged my way into the (usually quite conservative) museum, to enter the world of Pawel Althamer's Common Task and Miroslaw Balka's Topography. In conjunction with POLKSA! YEAR - a series of 200 projects celebrating Polish culture and the arts to the British public - Althamer takes his vision global with his work, Common Task, that has been travelling across continents with groups of 'astronauts' in golden suits and golden luggage, in their golden plane with their adventures documented in the exhibition. In contrast, Balka's video work explores the minimal landscape of his native Poland in a series of multi-projections on walls and floor screens paired with a chilling soundtrack of leather-whipped metal and industrial drones. Offering a different insight from his commission at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, the cold reality of a country stricken by war throughout history is present in both instances. The artworks from the artists present both the future and the past of a country that well deserves a year of celebration.
POLSKA! YEAR runs at Modern Art Oxford to 7th March 2010 and The Unilever Series: Miroslaw Balka How It Is runs to 5th April 2010.