Espoo Museum of Modern Art

10.10.2018 - 28.04.2019

Alicja Kwade: Trans-For-Men

Alicja Kwade, a contemporary artist widely celebrated in recent international art biennials, makes her Finnish debut with her solo show Trans-For-Men. The exhibition, that is built around a commission by the Saastamoinen Foundation, sheds light on the artist’s current practice.

The exhibition Trans-For-Men marks the beginning of a new form of collaboration between EMMA and the Saastamoinen Foundation. Every year, a new work will be commissioned from a seminal, topical contemporary artist.

The first artist in the collaboration is  Alicja Kwade (b. 1979 Katowice, Poland), who has planned her exhibition to interact with the museum’s unique architecture. Kwade lives and works in Berlin. She is an award-winning rising name in contemporary art whose work has featured at the Venice Biennale and numerous major museums over the past decade.

The show features five sculptural pieces that engage in an intriguing dialogue with the museum’s interior spaces and surrounding scenery. Kwade drew inspiration from the concrete brutalism of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre and the building’s history as a printing house, particularly the heavy printing machines and giant rolls of paper that once filled the gallery spaces. All the exhibits are monumental, time-based installations that depict movement and metamorphosis while guiding the visitor through the space.

Trans-For-Men (Fibonacci)


The highlight is a new piece by Kwade, the majestic Trans-For–Men (Fibonacci), 2018. The work reflects on interactions between people and nature, as well as investigating our relationship with nature from a broader, philosophical perspective.

Alicja Kwade has created this work as a commission for the Saastamoinen Foundation’s art collection. It consists of eight states of one sculpture positioned on the floor. The artist has replicated a natural boulder using 3D technology. The different states are based on the original boulder’s data. By using an algorithm based on the Fibonacci order, the states progressively or regressively morph towards two basic geometrical shapes: the sphere and the octahedron. Although they change form, the volume remains the same. Kwade discovers the nature of information and matter by challenging our common assumptions about reality.

What makes things what they are – or could everything be totally different?

Kwade also created another piece especially for EMMA Shift Slot (Tree), 2018. The artwork explores the themes of nature and growth and the nature’s systems, featuring bronze-cast branches and roots that sprout from a copper tree trunk. The tree is systematically divided into eight parts, disrupting its logical and natural order.

The other works in the exhibition touch upon one of the artist’s enduring topics of fascination: the philosophy of time. Kwade’s art delves into the concepts of space, time and matter, raising salient questions regarding the fundamental nature of reality. What makes things what they are – or could everything be totally different?

The exhibition is curated by Marie Nipper (Creator Projects) and EMMA’s Chief Curator Arja Miller. Marie Nipper is the Director of Copenhagen Contemporary. She worked previously as the Chief Curator of ARoS Art Museum and senior curator of Tate Liverpool.

An extensive catalogue highlighting Kwade’s work was published in conjunction with the exhibition. In Aporie is the first monograph of Alicja Kwade and it covers a wide range of her intriguing works. In addition to striking images, the monograph features essays by art experts, the curators Arja Miller (Chief Curator at EMMA) and Marie Nipper, and the geologist Minik Rosing. The catalogue is published by Hatje Cantz and Roulette Russe in collaboration with EMMA and the Saastamoinen Foundation.

  • © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

  • © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

  • © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

  • © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

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