Top of the page

Little Or­phans

Little Or­phans


Cast iron, cabinet (wood, glass, light); various dimensions

The premiere showing of the works from the Little Orphans series was held in the Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw as part of the Deutsche Bank Spojrzenia (Views) competition to which Olaf Brzeski was nominated in 2009. At that time the artist presented mobile display cabinets, their form referring to the 19th century way of exhibiting colonial booty, which can be seen, among others, in the Natural History Museum in London.

Inside each cabinet, the artist placed a sculpture inspired by minimalism, but slightly transformed – twisted and partly painted – resembling both a piece of metal in the alchemical process of metamorphosis and a living organism during transformation, a reptile basking in a terrarium in the process of sloughing. The artist decided to push one of those cabinets down the gallery’s main stairs. In this way “a living creature” was involved in an accident, and the viewer could see the sculpture’s corpse with a broken neck, smashed against a pillar in the place of the tragic accident.

The theme of attacking his own works, smashing them, knocking them off pedestals (like in the exhibition Art Is Violence, 2006) recurrent in Olaf Brzeski’s art, represents an interpretation of the context of an art institution as the place where acts of vandalism and violence take place; and refers to the perception of the art gallery, organising the competition, as a as symbolic battlefield.

Text: Patrycja Sikora / Translation: T.J.