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exhibition review: monica sosnowska’s ‘regional modernities’


Installation view, 'Regional Modernities', Monica Sosnowska, ACCA.  2013.

Installation view, ‘Regional Modernities’, Monica Sosnowska, ACCA. 2013.


If the outcome of the election has left you, like me, with a gripping tightness in the chest, and an uneasy sense of foreboding about the state of all our societal structures, then Monica Sosnowska’s Regional Modernities, the current exhibition at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne, might be for you.

Presenting four works which sit somewhere between stand-alone sculpture and installation, Sosnowska invokes visions of a possibly not too distant future. A future where the physical structures we have built to contain our ‘humanness’- schools, gyms, sky scrapers – have folded in on themselves. Yet it seems that the unspeakable disaster has happened, but the audience itself has come to the party late.

The walls have already been pressed inwards beyond use, the steel girders are crumpled – fallen towards the earth, suspended from the ceiling, useless.  Whatever it was (there’s no way of knowing), the catastrophic event has passed, and there is no immediate danger here.

The audience, in this sense, plays the role of ‘horror tourist’. As you wander casually through the two galleries perusing the sculptures, it feels like being confronted with ruined artefacts from an anthropological dig in the future. There is no glass from shattered windows, no debris. Sharp corners have been smoothed by the sands of time, and what we are left to consider the narrative that might have been is the abstract object. In this gesture, Sosnowska brings light to the absurdity of human structural systems and their entropic nature-  everything we build is destined to collapse.

‘Facade’ (2013) is definitely the showstopper. Its positioning in the front room, means the other three pieces unfortunately struggle to compare with its large scale wonder. The exhibition design is clunky, and feels oddly slap dash, while the run of the mill lighting does the work no favours – strange for the normally over aestheticized ACCA.

In all, Regional Modernities is worth a visit. Abbott is our PM now, and if you’re a masochist like me, then it’s really not hard to wander about and visualise that the crushed school halls and institutions might be much closer than we think.


Monica Sosnowska’s ‘Regional Modernities’,is showing at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne until 29 September. Entry is free. 

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