Marta Zgierska From All Angles

29.09.2023 – 07.01.2024 Marta Zgierska From All Angles

Zachęta Project Room

Curator: Magda Kardasz
Collaboration: Pola Gadowska

Marta Zgierska is a photographer who has developed a distinctive style that blends various opposites. The artist creates cool, aesthetically pleasing and formally sophisticated compositions in which images of abstracted objects or her own body convey emotional messages and metaphorically illustrate existential reflection. Zgierska’s broad liberal arts education makes her a keen interpreter of her own work. Let’s hear her speak for herself: ‘The recurring theme in my photographs is the status of women — both as subjects and objects of representation — but also the human condition today in general. In my artistic practice I explore the themes of trauma, extreme experiences and the tensions associated with them. I add a personal dimension to these themes, often using myself as the object in performative actions. I work with my own body, objects and space.’ 

Kamila Dworniczak in the text ‘Popiękno’ (Arteon, no. 6, 2019), which outlines the landscape of young photographers, places Zgierska in the category of ‘post-new documentarians’, along with Bartek Wieczorek, Zuza Krajewska, Jacek Kołodziejski, and Karol Grygoruk. She states: ‘The younger generation, while mentally oscillating in other areas, uses many tropes of the previously defined photographic language. On the one hand, it aestheticizes; on the other, it returns to empathetic humanism in its more original form, in both cases seeking to engage the viewer in dialogue. In this sense, the paths of young photographers lead to realms of either conventional or, more often, unconventional beauty, as well as to conceptual and intermedia actions.’

In the exhibition From All Angles at the Zachęta Project Room, we decided together with the artist to show a selection of photographs from her main series, which focus on trauma reflected in the body, the theme of its fragility (including the illusory compulsion of physical perfection), as well as the sense of insecurity and threat caused by this unsettling contemporary times/reality. The works are not presented in chronological order or in series, but are arranged to enter into dialogue with each other. This approach highlights the continuity of certain themes in the artist’s work.

Her debut series Post (2016) is a powerful photographic record of states of anxiety. Looming in the background is the trauma of the artist’s car accident. In addition to selected photographs from this series, the exhibition also features an object — a handwritten note, a report card given to Marta, a diligent and model student, by her primary school teacher. This evaluation has become for the artist a kind of prism through which she examines her own fears, as well as the differences between her memory and that of others. 

In the exhibition, Zgierska juxtaposes these photographs with her most recent works, which include images of trees pruned by gardeners and compositions of shrubs combined with oppressive metal elements. Here is what she writes about them: ‘At the moment I’m exploring the theme of weakness and withdrawal, understood as a response to the pressure of reality.’ The exhibition also includes selected photographs from the Votive Figure series, which critically examines the social pressure on women to ‘be beautiful’. The compositions feature vanitas attributes. The wax is reminiscent of ex-votos or a chamber of wax figures — the wax-covered body parts show cracks, and the figure portrayed (the artist’s self-portrait) seems profoundly alienated. 

The title From All Angles refers to all the series and somehow ties them together, uniting the exhibition. Marta Zgierska’sworks are charged with tension, anxiety, a sense of impending danger (on both a global and existential level) and exhaustion from an overload of stimuli and information, leading to an attitude of withdrawal. For the artist, withdrawal becomes a kind of internal resistance strategy against the surrounding oppression that comes at her/us from all angles. A strategy for survival between strength and weakness/vulnerability. 

Magda Kardasz

Marta Zgierska  — visual artist. She graduated in Photography from the Film School in Łódź and in Polish Philology and Social Communication from the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, and is currently a doctoral student at the Doctoral School of Humanities at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.

Related media
  • Grafika obiektu: Na Zachętę #16 – From all angles
    mediateka / audio
    Na Zachętę #16 – From all angles
  • Widok wystawy
    mediateka / 3D documentation
    3D Exhibition: Marta Zgierska. From All Angles
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Marta Zgierska
From All Angles
29.09.2023 – 07.01.2024

Zachęta Project Room
ul. Gałczyńskiego 3, 00-362 Warsaw
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Godziny otwarcia:
tuesday–Sunday 12–8 p.m.
free entry