Heavy-Weight History

Art & Culture

I'm sure all of us at one time or another have considered hiring a team of Polish weightlifters to pick up sculptures. No? Maybe it's only Christian Jankowski who has then and he's even managed to go on and make an exhibition out of it. The artist who has previously given the world 'Strip The Auctioneerand 'Casting Jesushas a penchant for taking a slightly unpredictable approach and asking questions with his work.


With 'Heavy-Weight History', Jankowski hopes to raise questions about the sculptures erected in Warsaw and worldwide; he wants his audiences to ponder how are the decisions taken over who or what is commemorated and whose interpretation of history is remembered. This seems like a great, innovative approach to sculpture as the focus is somewhat shifted from the norm which slants the viewpoint of the audience. 


Given the heavily war-torn recent history of Warsaw, it seems like the most logical place for a project such as this to take place. As the city was occupied during both World War II and the Soviet regime, landmarks have been erected to symbolise this history. The latter of these regimes has the greater lasting cultural effect as there are still several Communist monuments on display throughout the city, and indeed most of Eastern Europe. The group effort of the weightlifters involved is quite possibly a nod to this Communist history, particularly given the red uniforms worn by these muscle-men.


A combination of photographs and footage will be on show when this exhibition takes centre stage at the Lisson Gallery from January 31st. Alongside it will sit two of Jankowski's other projects; 'The China Paintersand 'Crying For The March Of Humanity'. The former of these sideshows is based on Jankowski finding that over half of the made-to-order oil paintings in the world are produced in Dafen, China. Upon realising this, the artist commissioned several local painters to copy his photos of the Dafen Art Museum whilst it was constructed. Jankowski found his masterstroke by asking the artists to include a painting of their choice within the work, allowing each artist their opportunity to be acknowledged. The other project featured, 'Crying For The March Of Humanity' may well be one of the best artistic ideas that I have ever heard. Jankowski has taken an entire episode of a Mexican 'telenovela' and replaced the dialogue with the actors sobbing and crying. I cannot express enough my love for this piece which utilises highly emotional scenes from the soap, resulting in an emotional blunderbuss that needs no words to tell of sorrow and relies on the dramatic music for the hilariously over-tense situations. It's trash, but it's trash like you'd never imagined.


Heavy-Weight History will be on show at the Lisson Gallery from 31st January – 8th March. For more information, see the Lisson Gallery website.


Ciaran Steward