Often bordering on controversial, the globally acclaimed artist Paweł Althamer has returned to the headlines after turning a concrete island gold…
Often hailed as one of Poland’s greatest living artists, Paweł Althamerhas breathed new life into a concrete island that, until recently, served as an open-air bear enclosure.
First built in 1952 to showcase the nearby zoo, for decades the moated pit was home to a trio of bears. Amid mounting concerns for its furry residents, it was finally closed in 2020 after a drunken man entered the pen and sustained minor injuries after attempting to befriend its inhabitants.
Lying empty ever since, City Hall had initially announced the island would be turned into a gastronomic facility. However, in August residents woke to find Althamer at work together with a crew of young volunteers clad in golden overalls.
According to the artist, by transforming the sad-looking pen into glimmering gold, a reference is made to the mental state of people living in big cities.
“People are overstimulated, they live in a constant rush,” says Althamer. “The antidote is an old animal enclosure where you can sit and read a book or meditate.”
With the artist himself taking up residence on the island for a couple of weeks, the project will include family picnics, book readings and art classes. Enabled by the zoo, the Zachęta Art Gallery and the Museum of Praga, the island can be seen in its current golden state until the end of September – thereafter, its future remains unclear.
Sept 9th, 11 a.m.
Yoga with Cela and Martyna (register: email@example.com)
Sept 10th, 10 a.m.
Family walk around Praski Park (Polish-language). Tickets from: muzeumpragi.pl
Sept 11th, 5 p.m.
Book reading (Polish-language). Register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept 12th, 3.30 p.m.
Krzysztof Maniak photography workshop. Register: email@example.com
September 15th, noon
Stories of the island (Polish-language). Tickets from: muzeumpragi.pl
Sept 17th, 4 p.m.
Tea on the island. Tickets: forms.office.com/e/iBFE2kEwVK
Sept 20th, 5 p.m.
Dr. Dolittle theatre performance (Polish-language). Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept 22nd, 5 p.m.
Art and nature walk (Polish-language).
Sept 23rd, 3 p.m.
Debut of Rafał Wilk’s art installation. Tickets: email@example.com
Sept 24th, noon
Art and nature walk plus meeting with Rafał Wilk. Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept 25th, 5 p.m.
Public reading meet-up. Tickets: email@example.com
Sept 29th, 2 p.m.
Open-air sculpture workshop. Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept 30th, noon
Stories and social history of the island (Polish-language). Tickets from: muzeumpragi.pl