Monumental work of art by Danuta Karsten in Warsaw
Stałość w ulotności, [constancy in volatility|permanence in transience], 2020
Transparent plastic tubes filled with air
Diameter: 52m; height: 52m
Wolskie Rotundy, Warszawa
1. The artist
The creator of this spectacular work, Danuta Karsten, is a Polish-German artist; born near Gdańsk in 1963, she now lives and works in the German Ruhr Valley. The artist has created a work as monumental as it is subtle in the Wolskie Rotundy, a former gasometer complex.
She is well known for her large-scale installations that always relate to their location's environment without overwhelming it. Her works are usually fashioned out of materials that find their purpose outside the arts. Large spaces are her strong suit, her installations giving them a new presence of the current day, extending and expanding on the significance of the location.
2. The location
Danuta Karsten used a former gasometer in Poland's capital city for this installation. The rotundas were built in 1888 and 1912 in historicist style. The edifice has a stark, boldly subdivided brick facade with the machinery and telescopic gas storage cylinders hidden behind the walls. The facade has remained intact with its countless window openings that have no real function. Gas storage in the rotundas ended in the seventies, but the now listed buildings have been sporadically used for a variety of activities since then.
The artist discovered the Wolskie Rotundy complex in Summer 2019 and it immediately caught her fascination leading up to the idea of creating an installation inside a former gasometer. She succeeded in convincing all the stakeholders of her idea.
The artist embarked on detailed planning in January 2020.
The presented installation is the artist's doctoral thesis, which was opened at the Faculty of Graphics of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 2019. Since January 2020 the artist started designing the work. She examines the ephemerality of places by briefly materializing it on the example of realized installations, which are in relation to memories of places and reactions of her own and the audience.
3. The work of art
It took Danuta Karsten two weeks and the help of many motivated volunteers to complete the work in July 2020. The installation comprises two hundred and forty transparent plastic tubes at a length of 104 metres each and a diameter of around 3.5 cm. The tubes have been clamped into place and filled with ordinary air.
The tubes follow an oversized yet simple stereometric form and the base of a cone with the corresponding tip inserted into it; this tip marks the absolute centre. The work fills out the entire interior of the gasometer from the dome down to the lowered floor. The industrial architecture dictates the dimensions of this site-specific installation, but the shape of this artistic intervention also reveals unexpected qualities in this historic interior space.
4. The effect
The work appears delicate and fragile despite its size and clearly defined volume. The transparent tubes run like lines in a drawing filling the void, albeit more figuratively than literally. The installation seems fully alive despite its geometric design. Even the gentlest breeze brings the structure into motion with soft sounds emanating from it in stark contrast to the rigid historic form of the building. The past must persist in the living present.
This large-scale installation takes up the interior volume of the former gasometer and is uniquely contoured and centred by it, and yet it still maintains its organic appearance. The effect is not caused by its physical mass, but by the real and virtual spatial dynamic. Light on materials, the work still evokes an extremely full and lively inner aesthetic.
The installation's appearance depends on the season and time of day, creating an event-like experience in the here and now. Time and space blend together in permanent transience. The building's interior breathes, the overwhelming scale of this spectacle in all its entirety dwarfing human presence.
This artistic intervention by Danuta Karsten creates a new aura, a "here and now" turning this cathedral to industry into a sacred space. The sublime materialises into a presence beyond its own self. Absolute concentration surpasses randomness, light drives out the dark.
The artist has created a pièce de résistance with an effect that can only be described as overwhelming.
5. The data
[„Stałość w ulotności", constancy in volatility|permanence in transience]
240 transparent plastic tubes, length 104m each, filled with air
Approx. total size, diameter: 52m; height: 52m
Wolskie Rotundy, Warszawa
ul. Ignacego Prądzyńskiego 14
Open for viewing from 20.09. 2020
6. Organisation, acknowledgments
The artist acknowledges the support that the following individuals and institutions have given for her project:
Organiser, Sponsors : Wolskie Rotundy
Fundacja Rodziny Biernackich
Pojęcie o wyobrażeniu
Co-organiser: Faculty of Graphics of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
Sponsors: Van den Blocke, Maremix, R Works
Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to the many volunteers who helped complete the work.