Friday 8 July, 8:00 pm — Saturday 3 September 2005, 1:00 am
The MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS group was organised during preparations for the MOTHER’S DAY exhibition shown between 13-19 January 2005 at the Gallery XXI in Warsaw. Its members are the exhibition’s curator Agnieszka Rayzacher and eight artists: Anna Baumgart, Sędzia Główny performance group (Karolina Wiktor and Aleksandra Kubiak), Elżbieta Jabłońska, Zuzanna Janina, Katarzyna Korzeniecka, Alicja Łukasiak and Monika Mamzeta.
WHY MOTHER’S DAY?
The portrayal of motherhood in art has essentially remained unchanged for many long centuries. Already in the Palaeolithic period small statues with a Venus-like voluptuousness and distinct signs of sexuality appeared. The woman as an ancient symbol of fertility and the link to nature played a large role in ancient cultures, for instance in the personification of goddesses. With the appearance of the cult of the Virgin Mary, the Madonna and Child were for a long time the dominant icon of motherhood in European culture. The Madonna was attributed qualities that are indispensable for a woman and mother. Until the 19th century, artists – that is to say men – approached motherhood with a male eye, so their works above all emanated homely warmth, security and family harmony. Has contemporary art produced an alternative to this idyllic portrayal created by men?
Women artists from the turn of the century, such as Mary Cassat, Cecilia Beaux or the Polish artist Olga Boznańska, approached motherhood and womanhood from a different aspect. Helen Hadwick’s photo-installations drew attention to the symbolic-physical unity of mother and daughter. In Alice Neel’s painting the blessed state attendant with tiredness and impatience is presented.
Women artists today strive to answer what the woman’s place in the world we live in now and female identity are, and in their works they choose subjects from private areas of life. Motherhood and the all but compulsory housework it involves are inseparable from these.
The idea behind the MOTHER’S DAY exhibition was in part to counterpose exhibitions of a comprehensive nature dealing with ‘the woman in Polish art’. It does not intend to give a historical review but to react to what women artists wish to express nowadays – what answers they give to social and cultural changes, and how they show their private sides. With the help of the exhibition the curator focuses attention on stereotypes constantly associated with the image of motherhood, how, for example, a pregnant woman should look, dress and behave.
It intends to start a discourse on what women think of motherhood. Do they still think of it as an obligation? What is their inheritance handed down from their mothers and grandmothers? It wishes to spotlight the relations between mothers and daughters, and other female members of the family.
Agnieszka Rayzacher (1969), curator, art historian and critic, studied history of art at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. She has written for Exit, Art&Business, Arteon, Przekrój and Newsweek. She is interested in the young generation of Polish artists and works with the Zmiana Organizacji Ruchu (ZOR) group and the Szupermarket Sztuki foundation. She has been curator of numerous exhibitions in Poland and abroad.
Anna Baumgart (1966), sculptor and video artist, graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk and now lives in Warsaw. One of Poland’s best known and most active women artists, she makes video works, sculptures and installations. Since 1995 she has worked with the Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdańsk. Her works have been shown in different group exhibitions of contemporary Polish art across Europe, including Made in Poland, Strasbourg (2001), Semiotic View, Charim Gallery, Vienna (2002), “Under the Red and White Flag” – Young Polish Artists, CSW Talin, Wilno Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Tagil and Moscow (2004). She deals with feminist subjects – she has for years examined women’s behaviour patterns and women’s roles in her spatial installations and video works.
Sędzia Glówny performance group - Karolina Wiktor (1979) and Aleksandra Kubiak (1978) studied at the Institute of Arts at the University of Zielonagóra. They create performances together and individually as well. From the beginning they have worked on the theme of interdependence. Their works are about their sex, sexuality, sexual roles, and socially accepted and observable patterns of behaviour.
Elżbieta Jabłońska (1970) paints, draws, takes photos and creates graphics, installations and performances. She graduated from the Fine Arts Department at the Copernicus University in Toruń, where she currently teaches. She lives in Bydgoszcz. She has exhibited on a giant poster at the AMS Outdoor Gallery and the Zachęta Gallery, and took part in the exhibition “Architecture of Gender” presenting Polish women artists at the Sculpture Center in New York. Often she involves viewers in her projects, revealing in a humorous way female behaviour patterns in private, at home. She puts on the image of Polish Mother and Supermother. In her action “Through the stomach to the heart” she feeds those attending the opening.
Zuzanna Janina (1964) creates objects and multimedia installations, photos, video works and events. She graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Arts. Her works are built on dialogues, refined well-elaborated forms and the feelings the artwork produces. Emotions, childhood memories, family ties and relations between the generations frequently occur in her work. She works together with the Foksal Gallery, Warsaw, and has exhibited at many group and solo shows in Poland and abroad, including the Warsaw Contemporary Arts Centre (CSW- Zamek Ujazdowski), the Zachęta Gallery, the A.v. Scholz Gallery in Berlin and the Bunkier Sztuki in Cracow. At present she is working on the project I have seen my own death, begun in 2003.
Katarzyna Korzeniecka (1976) deals mainly with photography and painting. She graduated from the Painting Department of the Warsaw Academy of Arts (in Leon Tarasewicz’s guest workshop). She has had solo exhibitions in the Gallery Biała in Lublin, and in the Zielona Góra and Białystok BWA, and participated in the Backlight 02 photography biennial in the Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere, Finland, and the Poznan Photography Biennale. For years the relationship between model and artist has fascinated her. She produces photographs of a painterly nature of her models on huge canvas sheets. She makes her models lie in a relatively passive role on the sheet. After a while they start behaving naturally and she attempts to capture these moments when the models have forgotten that they are being observed.
Alicja Łukasiak (1975) studied at the Marie Curie-Skłodowsa University in Lublin. She took part in the novart.pl festival of young artists in Bunkier Sztuki in Cracow. She had a solo exhibition at the Warsaw Contemporary Arts Centre (CSW - Zamek Ujazdowski), and participated in the international arts programme Faunomania. She has been working on her project Zosia for years. She makes photo-mosaics and large-scale photo-prints mainly about pregnancy, giving birth and children.
Monika Mamzeta (1970) is concerned with objects, multimedia and photo installations, and web-art. She writes about feminist theory of art. She studied in Grzegorz Kowalski’s workshop in the Sculpture Department of the Warsaw Academy of Arts, and now lives and works in Warsaw. She has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions including in the Zachęta Gallery and the Warsaw Contemporary Arts Centre (CSW- Zamek Ujazdowski). In 2000 she showed her project “Genealogy/Gineology (Wound After My Mother)” organised by the AMS Outdoor Gallery on giant posters. She mainly works with social and cultural clichés about commonly held notions of the role of women. Her most recent work “I’m going to be a virgin when I grow up” was shown at Casa Internationale delle Donne in Rome in 2003, currently on show in Budapest at the group exhibition Necc at KOGART until 21 August.