Artwork of the month February

Pawel Althamer, Self-Portrait (Sorcerer), 2009

Pawel Althamer

* 1976 in Warsaw, lives and works in Warsaw

Self-Portrait (Sorcerer), 2009

Wire mesh, feather, hammer, trousers, jacket, t-shirt, trainers, reflector, mobile phone, metal stand, motor


Pawel Althamer reflects himself repeatedly in sculptural self portraits. In this 2009 work, he presents himself as an almost life-size figure of bars and wire mesh turning mechanically on its own axis. The artist has dressed his alter ego in his own worn and mended clothes – a t-shirt, cargo pants and trainers. The feather on his head and the pose evoke a Native American, and although this is further underlined by the title Sorcerer, the use of hard, cold materials tempers the shamanic element. The gesture, with right hand raised, grasping a hammer, suggests a ritual dance while at the same time conveying something almost brutish. The garland of Nokia mobiles places the figure within the sphere of our daily lives, drawing attention to the almost cult-like status of these objects in our globalised society.

Human frailty and the figure of the individual play an important role in Althamer's work. The artist multiplies his own identity and, in doing so, pushes it to its limits. He uses his body as an instrument by which to reference the world as he explores its social and economic structures in ever new and different contexts. Althamer's artistic strategies play on the principle of shifting meanings and human relationships. By deploying everyday objects (such as mobile phones) in unexpected and unfamiliar contexts, he alters their significance in ways that make us more acutely aware of our surroundings.

<b>Pawel Althamer, Self-Portrait (Sorcerer), 2009</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.