Joanna Piotrowska

Joanna Piotrowska, I Frowst, 2013–14, courtesy Joanna Piotrowska; Galeria Dawid Radziszewski, Warsaw; Madragoa, Lisbon; Southard Reid, London

Joanna Piotrowska’s practice investigates the layered composition of the notion of self, looking in particular at the friction between individual and collective dynamics. The series Frowst (2013–14) portrays pairs of family members whose expressions and positions embody a feel of discomfort and hint at the unseen organizing principles structuring those relations. Drawing on the Family Constellation therapy developed by Bernd Hellinger, the enigmatic atmosphere of the photographs signals an understanding of the family as a source of both hostility and safety. The visual vocabulary of her film Untitled (2016) builds a sort of nonverbal bodily alphabet; poses of aggression and shield collapse onto each other, blurring subjective gestures of struggle into wider narratives of conflict.

Addressing issues such as the female condition, the nuclear family, or post-Soviet Poland, Piotrowska’s work investigates the symbolic and invisible power structures that constrain personal behaviors, singling how culture, politics, and history impact the very intimate, emotional life of each person. The body is an essential tool in the attempt to make these systems visible, acting like an emancipatory interface that decodes and mediates the different forces exerting their pull on the individual.

—João Laia

  • KW Institute for Contemporary Art


Untitled, 2015
Silver-gelatin print

Untitled, 2014
Silbergelatineabzug Silver-gelatin print

VII, Frowst, 2013-14
Silver-gelatin print

XIII, Frowst, 2013-14
Silver-gelatin print

III, Frowst, 2013-14
Silver-gelatin print

Untitled, 2016
16mm film, color, silent, loop, 3′43″
Edition 5 + 1 AP

All works Courtesy Joanna Piotrowska; Galeria Dawid Radziszewski, Warsaw;
Madragoa, Lisbon; Southard Reid, London

Produced by Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art
With the support of Adam Mickiewicz Institutend