I feel guilty' says Polish Holocaust artist

Miroslaw Balka in front of his Holocaust artwork in the Tate Modern

Miroslaw Balka in front of his Holocaust artwork in the Tate Modern

A non-Jewish Polish artist who has built the latest installation in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, has spoken of the “guilt” he feels for Poland’s past.

How It Is, by Miroslaw Balka, is a huge steel sculpture, standing 13m high, 10m wide and 30m long.

Reminiscent of a giant shipping container and mounted on supports so that visitors can walk underneath, some have suggested it is similar to a gas chamber.

Mr Balka was born in Warsaw in 1958. Much of his work explores his personal history and the history of Poland, including a focus on the Holocaust.

He said: “I never make the works about the Holocaust in a direct way but the experience of the country projects on my work.

“I grew up without much knowledge of the Holocaust. I only learnt about it regarding the Polish people, not the Jewish people. I feel shame but now I know a lot about what happened.

“I feel a lot of guilt for the past. In some of my work, especially the videos, I’m trying to collect the traces. I’m a pilgrim who goes to Treblinka and Majdanek and tries to do something. It’s important for people to remember what took place.”

    Last updated: 4:54pm, October 15 2009