The extensive oeuvre of sculptor, photographer and graphic artist Teresa Gierzyńska (b. 1947) remains unknown to the general public. A large, monographic exhibition at Zachęta, accompanied by an extensive publication, provides the first complete insight into this original artist’s work, which is situated at the junction of various disciplines and media. The title of the exhibition is taken from Lauren Berlant’s book Female Complaint. The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008). It is an excellent commentary on art that has grown out of opposition to images of femininity mediated by mass culture and stereotypes about the social role of women and their ideal lives.
The artist explores the fringes of photography, uses it as a record of her performative practice and experiments with the methods of its reproduction and processing. She introduces into the realm of visual art elements taken from mass culture, as well as its inherent techniques. The main cycles of the exhibition are: About Her and The Essence of Things. The former consists of photographic self-portraits created over several decades, and later also of portraits of her growing daughter. The second is a collection of recycled collages using images of women from the colour press, in which the artist confronts herself with the male gaze and the iconography (artistic and popular) of the representation of women as objects of desire. These works are an example of the subtle and intimate feminist language developed by Gierzyńska, which serves the purpose of exploring and discovering female identity, speaking about one’s own corporeality and sexuality.