Ellen Harvey (USA)
Exhibition opening: September 7 at 7 p.m
On view through 11.10 2009
Curator: Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka
Exactly six years ago, American artist Ellen Harvey was the first guest at the newly founded
artists-in-residence laboratory program at the Centre for Contemporary Art at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland. In her exhibition New is Old, she drew attention to the fact that the run-down and neglected Laboratory Building adjacent to the recently reconstructed Castle was in fact the only surviving original structure of the old Castle complex. Using wall painting and a series of seven lavishly framed paintings representing obviously modern spaces in the reconstructed Castle, she transformed one of the destroyed rooms in the Laboratory Building into a palace in its own right, contrasting it with the inauthentic Castle next door.
Six years later, to mark the opening of the renovated and extended Laboratory building, viewers can see Harvey's new site specific project Beautiful Ruin. The windows and doors in the new exhibition space will be covered in plexi-glas mirrors hand-engraved with a drawing that locates the new space in a tragic future where the adjacent Ujazdowski Castle has been reduced to romantic forested ruins for a second time. Light sources behind the doors and daylight coming in through the windows allow the viewers to see themselves mirrored inside a drawing in light.
Ellen Harvey's new project, apparently so innocent, romantic and beautiful, is also perversely ambiguous. Is the newly renovated Laboratory indeed so beautiful? What is the future of Ujazdowaski Castle? Is the return to the past the right way? Past - future, novelty - antiquity, splendour and ruins interlace with the complex history of the site to question the direction of the new art space.
Ellen Harvey was born in the United Kingdom and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally and was most recently included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Recent solo exhibitions include Private Collections at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, The Museum of Failure at Luxe Gallery, New York, Beautiful/Ugly at Magnus Müller in Berlin and Bad Mirror at Galerie Gebruder Lehmann in Dresden, Mirror at the Pennsylvania Academy and A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris at the Whitney Museum at Altria. She took part in the Whitney Independent Study Program and the PS1 Studio Program. Recent awards include a Pennies from Heaven Grant, a Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Grant, a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant and a Palm Beach County Cultural Council Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. She has completed projects for both the New York and Chicago Transit Authorities, most recently including a mosaic for the new Metro-North Yankee Stadium Station. The New York Beautification Project was published by Gregory Miller & Co. in 2005 and Ellen Harvey: Mirror was published by the Pennsylvania Academy in 2006. Her next solo exhibition this Fall will be with Meessen De Clercq Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, opening on September 11.
The project was executed with the support of : Trust for Mutual Understandig, Headlands Centre for Arts, the Polish Institute in New York and the City of Warsaw.
Media support: Gazeta Wyborcza, Aktivist, Exklusiv, artinfo.pl, sztuka.pl