Miroslaw Balka
Common Ground, 2013-2016
Installation, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and White Cube
Balka used an English expression to name his work Common Ground. Perhaps he attaches special importance to the polysemy contained in it. "Ground" can also mean soil, the ground we walk on, the surface of the earth. And indeed, this work is made of old doormats which have been collected by the artist in Cracow (he bartered them from the people offering them new ones of the same sort.) Therefore "common ground" can be understood almost literally: the well-trodden surface of the doormats has absorbed people's common ground because Balka collected the doormats in one and the same city neighborhood. However, this expression can also be understood metaphorically: what unite these objects are traditional values shared by the former owners of the doormats as well as the years of living in the same neighborhood and often side by side.

Finally, "ground" can be understood as a place towards which a person is attached and which he associates with his roots. Balka is well familiar with such feelings – many of his works are devoted to the small town of Otwock located 25 kilometers from Warsaw. He grew up in Otwock and now uses the old parental house as his studio. During the war the Treblinka concentration camp was located not far from Otwock. In the town itself a number of heroes, who escaped from the besieged Warsaw ghetto, found their death. Those dramatic details are also reflected in Balka's work. The spirit of the place is inseparable for him from the traumas which people share and overcome together with the others.
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