Currently installed on the ground floor of The Morgan Library and Museum in midtown Manhattan, Monika Grzymala’s Volumen is an impressive flurry of paper and string, flowing up from a corner of the museum’s glass atrium, and spreading out as it flows upwards towards the ceiling. Part of the museum’s annual “Summer Sculpture Series,” the piece forms an illusively rich tapestry of colors, mixing homemade paper with copied texts from the museum’s vast collections of manuscripts and books.
The process of making paper is a recurring trend in her work, having previously been used during the Polish-born, Berlin-based artist’s inclusion in the 2012 Sydney Biennale. Collaborating with Euraba tribe of Aboriginal Australians, Grzymala created a similarly flowing piece, which used the varied tones and thicknesses of homemade paper as a reflective element, allowing light to play off the work’s ever-evolving structure. Sending Calder’s experiments in mobile work into a more delicate, ephemeral space, Grzymala created a piece that works both as conceptual framework and beautifully shifting work.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing museums in New York for its precise sense of its own history, The Morgan is seeing a number of exhibitions this summer that take its own history as part of its jumping off point. Simultaneously on view, Matthew Barney’s series of drawings and sketches have also drawn from the museum’s collection, using early copies of works by Hemingway and Mailer to create his complexly layered installations and assemblages. Grzymala takes a conceptually lighter approach in her work, having selected a number of aesthetically appealing manuscripts and pages from compositions and writings by Galileo, Gershwin, Jane Austen, and Beethoven to include in the work, fashioned alongside sheets of her own handmade paper.
Here, Grzymala’s practice in paper-making is readopted, turning the focus explicitly towards the Morgan’s role in the archival and preservation of a number of ancient texts and original prints. Alternating papers and prints, the final result is a work that sets the constantly shifting and evolving dialogue of knowledge and arts into a visible form, light dancing off the pages and papers as they literally spring from the museum’s architectural foundations.
A simple yet elegant installation, Grzymala’s Volumen provides a fitting meditation on The Morgan’s place between art and archive, static collection and fluid research. It closes on November 3rd.