Patriarchy is the most general definition of slavery. This is its main patrix, and on the side, there is the matrix.
Bożena Keff, About the Mother and the Homeland
According to the international humanitarian organization Oxfam, women around the world perform 12.5 billion hours of unpaid, invisible care work every day. If they were entitled to a minimum wage, they would contribute nearly $11 trillion annually to the global economy, three times more than the IT industry…
The exhibition by Anna Witkowska is inspired by self-diagnosis. The artist boldly names emotions, limitations, body states and social situations. Such self-recognition can lead the viewer astray. Looking through the personal context, we can forget about our habitus and projections and build an image of reality based on deficiencies. In order not to fall into this trap, Witkowska seeks a broader context for her emotional states. She observes correlations between well-being and the world of external problems. Once again, in her creative work, she emphasizes that the private is political. Struggling with her own fatigue, she sees it as political resistance to the economic overproduction worldwide. She works through the experiences of the transformation generation. Her film I’m Tired with music by Adam Witkowski takes the viewers through the exhibition, to the times when “you were young and full of faith.”
In The Sow. About a Pig that Learnt to Fly the artist uses common, everyday objects. In the space we enter a raft is a feeling – floating on the surface, drifting, at the same time symbolizing the invisibility of migrants and their death. The artist sees the sow: with her hair falling out, breasts saggy after breastfeeding, varicose veins drawn on her legs after subsequent pregnancies, killed by her daughter in the eternal conflict between mother and daughter, crying because of wars and the climate crisis, as if she was no longer able to embrace the difficult reality, although she embraces a tree nearby.
Confronted with the fragility of her body, mortality and fatigue, she seekss salvation not only for herelf. Tracing existing varicose veins and creating a map of subsequent ones builds an image of communicating vessels and relationships of a cellular community.
The sow cursing with hopelessness and failure, creates an affirmation using cards from instant tea for women, made with harmony, peace and wellness in mind. The sow hidden behind simple gestures, sustaining life by puncturing the body with acupuncture needles, thus creating an internal landscape of emotions blocked in the body.
The sow breaking the spell of deficiency by chanting simple requests to her body or returning to a childhood film series in which the cat Rademenes could grant seven wishes. (Rademenes, could you tear down the wall on the border with Belarus and take care of the people lost there?)
She is left with the crisis, doubt. And yet Byung Chul Han argues fatigue is a healthy, appropriate symptom, the only one that provides the opportunity to change the dense and overstimulated world. The pain does not bother us so much when we remove the imperative of happiness and positivity, since it is the social burnout that makes us united. A common disappointment with post-modernity, because work will not last forever. The sow will finally fly into the sky! It will gain a new perspective, space for contemplation and beauty. And complacency.”
Anna Witkowska (born 1978) – visual artist, graphic designer, occasional curator. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Professor at the Academy of Art in Szczecin.
In her practice, she applies the trickster strategy, using various media and poetics. She creates independently or in an artistic duo with Adam Witkowski. Her early projects could be described as designer piracy, advertising poetics with an existential dimension. Her current works combine pessimism and irony.
A large part of her current activity is related to collective practices, the aim of which is to develop horizontal and heterarchical methods of functioning. She co-creates the Plenum of Caring People, and with Alicja Karska, the artistic craft project Szare Wrony, dealing with original upcycling of woolen clothing in the spirit of circular economy. She co-led the Friends from the Sea group.
For over twenty years, Witkowska has intensively worked in the graphic field, collaborating mainly with visual and sound artists, cultural institutions and NGOs. She co-operates with the publishing house Części Proste and Głos Proste and słowo/obraz/terytoria.
Anna Witkowska’s works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Art “Zachęta” in Warsaw, NOMUS in Gdańsk, the Lower Silesian Museum and private collectors.