Common Task

Paweł Althamer

Common Task (2009), a Paweł Althamer project, is a social sculpture, documented group activities, and a documentary video in sci-fi mood. Warsaw's Bródno-Podgrodzie neighborhood was built during the communist era as residential infrastructure for the employees of the nearby factories and plants. In that scenery, a group of neighbors from the Krasnobrodzka 13 highrise appears wearing unusual attire – golden suits and coats – reminiscent of science-fiction imagery. Their golden color, which brings up dreams of fabulous splendor, also refers to the metaphysical dimention of reality. People dressed in suits become guests in their own neighborhood, sojourners traveling the demarcation line of two realities – the tamed reality of everyday life and another, fantastic, foreign. Their appearance interferes in the common reception of reality, initiating chaos, much like carnival season, when reality is set aside and man is plucked out of his familiar routine.

The participants of Common Task are volunteers from among Paweł Althamer's neighbors. They engage in group activities, meetings with various experts and scientists and extraordinary journeys. Of special significance are their own initiative and behavior in situations where the common reality of neiborhood life is confronted with unusual propositions and fantastic events. As the activities take place in public, the response and interference of random witnesses may also be interesting.

The inhabitants of the highrise also set out on journeys. For instance, they have traveled to another radical edition of a modernist architectural-social vision, incarnated in the city of Brasilia – the captial of Brazil built in the interior. More than 150 project participants arrived in Brussels on the 4th of June. They were flown in in a golden Boeing 737, designed by the artist. Their first stop in the city were the grounds of Expo 58, an area curiously representing the world in all of its complexity, but at the same time brought down to a single elementary particle. The model of an atom looming over national pavilions became a symbolic starting-point for their visit to the European district and interactions with the city's residents.


See: Modern Art OxfordArtforum


Organized with the support of: The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, National Culture Centre, Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites, European Solidarity Centre

Partners: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Belgium, Polish Institute in Brussels, LOT Polish Airlines, The Henry Moore Foundation, Modern Art Oxford, Nottingham Contemporary

Media coverage: TVN, TVP, Polsat