The exhibition at TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art in Szczecin features Aneta Grzeszykowska’s latest photo series Selfie with the Dog.
In 2014, in her earlier series of photographs titled Selfie, the artist photographed naturalistic sculptures depicting fragments of human body made from pigskin, a material closely resembling human skin. In 2023, she created copies of the objects and fed them to dogs, documenting the consumption process with the camera.
There is no blood in the work. What is eaten remains conventional. Aside from the details that define the matter of the sculptures, the viewer also notices schematically drawn facial features, the plasticity of teeth, nails and eyes. The progressing disappearance of objects makes reference to their fragility and impermanence, evoking existential anxiety. The body is not only defragmented, but also deprived of its accepted human shape. It becomes a new form, carved violently by animal teeth. Paradoxically, in Selfie with the Dog, the artistic concept is initiated by dogs. Their natural, animal desire to eat becomes a proposition that, conceptualized, turns into a work of art.
The status of a body defined as dead does not mean the corpse has lost its representative function. It is a depiction of a former existence. Powdering a lifeless body and creating its photographic documentation is a key aspect in Grzeszykowska’s perception of body as identity image. The issues, discussed in her subsequent works, are an attempt to analyze the variable of an individual’s identity and personality. Grzeszykowska’s latest project Selfie with the Dog takes a step further – the images are removed from the substitutes and change their function. The identity of animals is recovered and expressed performatively, in harmony with their physiology. The remains of sculptures devoid of human form gradually disappear from the frame and reality, bringing Grzeszykowska’s considerations explored in her consecutive photo series and the “Selfie” story to an end.
The inextricable connection with the body speaks volumes about our identity – changeable, fluid, constantly elusive. I don’t think it is constituting itself in any way, on the contrary – as we mature, we leave it behind. The process only ends when we are dying, perhaps at this moment we also realize our identity will not change any more and we try to preserve it. (Aneta Grzeszykowska)
Aneta Grzeszykowska (born 1974) – visual artist. She uses photography and video, focusing on their performative aspect. The leitmotif of her work is the analysis of the processes of self-creation, one of the key themes of art and a fundamental issue for the condition of today’s post-media society. Aneta Grzeszykowska examines the possibility of escaping from identity-shaping cultural and artistic stereotypes. She deconstructs her own image and manipulates it, eventually reaching for its sculptural substitutes. She thus comes closer to the conclusion that self-creation is merely another way of struggling against the mortal nature of the body.
Aneta Grzeszykowska has participated in a number of important international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale (2022), the Berlin Biennale (2006) and La Triennale in Paris (2012). She has exhibited, among others, at the New Museum and Sculpture Center in New York, Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, the Folkwang Museum in Essen and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Her solo exhibition at Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw earned her the renowned Polityka’s Passport award (2014). Her works are held in prestigious museum collections, including: Center Pompidou in Paris, Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Museum of Art in Łódź. She is affiliated with Galeria Raster in Warsaw and Lyles & King in New York.
She runs the Performative Photography studio at the Academy of Art in Szczecin.