*1974 in Warsaw, Poland, lives in Warsaw.
With 'Untitled Film Stills' Aneta Grzeszykowska refers to one of the most important artists of the outgoing 20th century. Between 1977 and 1980, the American artist Cindy Sherman created her iconic 'Untitled Film Stills'. She photographed herself in sixty-nine different imaginary situations, reminiscent of scenes from black-and-white films of the 1950s and 60s. Changing her clothes, make-up and surroundings for each image, she playfully 'tries on' different feminine stereotypes in a self-assured game of roles and disguises. The series marked a milestone in the emancipation of female artists in the early 1980s.
In her series of the same name, made in 2006, Aneta Grzeszykowska re-stages the images, photographing herself in the imaginary scenarios. She creates free adaptations of the original settings, slips in and out of clothes, make-up and roles, and translates the black-and-white pictorial worlds of Cindy Sherman into colour photography. Seven photos from the series, examples of so-called 'Appropriation Art', are part of the collection. The term 'Appropriation Art' refers to the strategy of artists who take pre-existing material and simply use it for their own creative purposes. Back in the 1980s it was applied to Cindy Sherman’s work. Now, more than 25 years later, here it is again, exemplified in a very literal way in the work of this Polish artist.
When looking at photographs and images, we have learnt to keep a sceptical distance. We know that an image is always an interpretation, a manipulation of what is actually there, only one of many conceivable or possible representations of a specific situation. It is never a neutral and factual reflection of reality.
In Aneta Grzeszykowska's series 'Negative Book', the usual parameters of analogue photography are displaced. Many of the photographs were taken during a residency the artist spent in California with her partner and child. Ostensibly, these are private pictures of an interesting and exciting stay. But the prints have two distracting elements. Firstly, the photographs have been printed as negatives instead of positives, so that everything which is bright in reality, reflecting a lot of light, appears dark in the photographic print, and what is dark suddenly appears light. Secondly, in quite a number of photographs the artist has also painted her face and body with black paint. In the negative print the effect is to make her face and body appear white.
In March 2015, invited for an exhibition in Isfahan, Aneta Grzeszykowska created the series Iranian Film Stills as a kind of travel journal from her arrival to the opening of the exhibition. The 74 motifs, showing the artist dressed in the mandatory Islamic garment together with her daughter at various locations of an everyday life in Iran, are photographed in very sophisticated light setting. Always there is a special light spot on the artist, creating the impression of a film still and the feeling of a journey back in some timeless atmosphere.
Aneta Grzeszykowska used her own body in her film Headache. Produced with the help of digital tools and set against a black background, the film shows a naked, dismembered body taking part in a type of ballet, a fight and erotic game with other body parts. The way in which the body is partitioned is reminiscent of techniques used in black light theatre where velvet curtains conceal parts of the actors, making them invisible.
The 12-hour-long work Clock uses similar imagery as Headache and displays the full hours using digital multiplications of the performer.