The practice of London based Polish artist Joanna Piotrowska involves photography, video and performance. After studying Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Piotrowska received her MA from the Royal College of Art in London. Her work was exhibited by renowned institutions including Tate Britain (2019), Kunsthalle Basel (2019), 10th Berlin Biennale (2018) and MoMA, New York (2018). She is the 2018 recipient of the Lewis Baltz Research Fund Award.
Joanna Piotrowska’s psychologically charged work explores human relations and its gestures of care, self-protection and control. Although her photographs feature everyday motifs, they do not show ordinary or candid situations. As the curator George Vasey points out: “Each image resists easy assimilation, like reading a book with the pages torn out, the images are enigmas.”
The performative aspect plays a fundamental role in the construction of the artist’s work. Piotrowska asks her subjects to perform certain actions and they respond actively in order to let underlying psychological structures and conditionings emerge. The resulting images may look awkward or even disturbing, but as the psychoanalyst and writer Anouchka Grose suggests: “While Piotrowska’s photos might initially look sinister, it’s also easy to imagine the subjects suddenly bursting into laughter.”
Piotrowska’s oeuvre investigates the interaction between the human body and the environment, which is charged with social, political and anthropological issues. Through decontextualisation and exaggeration the artist challenges seemingly obvious settings and assumptions, such as the common equation of home=family=safety. Her work thus invites viewers to reconsider certainties that were taken for granted.