"How It Is" is a portrait of Polish artist Miroslaw Balka, whose work of the same title filled the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern from October 2009 till April 2010. Commissioned as part of the Unilever Series, Balka’s enormous steel structure, reminiscent of industrial architecture, stood some 30 meters long and 15 meters high, creating a monumental void within the space. On entering the visitor would, as Balka put it, ‘touch darkness’ – an experience he likens to disappearing.
In making the film Price visited Balka at his studio in the town of Otwock – just outside the Polish capital of Warsaw – in the house where the artist grew up, and where his octogenarian father still lives next door. The place, like his work, is full of historical traces, of objects worn through human touch and infused with the passage of time. And yet the work is far from nostalgic. Otwock, like many Polish towns, has a tragic past: it was the site of a Jewish ghetto during World War II. Balka explains how he feels responsible for keeping this history vivid by presenting us with an experiential metaphor for the ultimate moment of disappearance.
© Tate Media 2010
Directed, Filmed & Edited by James Price
Sound Design by Gurnot Fuhrmann
Produced by Kate Vogel