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by Andres Alvarez

Aneta Grzeszykowska, through her photographic work, constructs another step within a certain genealogy of women who have used the body as a performative instrument or as a territory emanating potentially subversive gestures.

This strategy of self-representation, common to other artists within conceptual photography, could now be named as a typology. Without overlooking the possible classifications established within the recent history of visualities, where figures such as Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, Anna Mendieta, Tatiana Parcero, Marta María Pérez, or Magdalena Campos-Pons—within the Caribbean contributions—have set a very high bar that is impossible to ignore.


All images belong to the Mama series and were taken from the main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale.

La Grzeszykowska's work seems to enter this family. However, her visual language gains relevance by repositioning, within the current landscape, the communicative potentials and the simplicity of a photographed face.


Over the years, Grzeszykowska has been incorporating "that face" (all faces) with additives: makeup, lighting, and tonal manipulations, effects that transform these physiognomies into masks, where the dimension of the "Self" and the "Other" begins a dialogue of profound depths.


It would be trivial to assert that merely the reactivation of a constructive strategy, already recurrent within modern and contemporary photography, validates the dimension of her work. Its true significance comes from initiating a disconcerting approach to a certain thematic area within the realms of femininity: motherhood from its dimension as a social construct.


However, beyond these assumptions about execution, what remains is the perversely poetic visual certainty of this series.

The child, operating in a raw, indifferent, and dominant manner, not only adds an element of disturbance to the image, already enigmatic due to the eyeless wax face; but also positions herself as what Markus Miessen called the "Disinterested Intruder," a subversive participant who disturbs the systemic order, positioning herself beyond the rules and operating solely on her terms.

Unlike Miessen's intruder, the child is not a participant completely detached from a relationship or a power structure, but rather, as a daughter, she is an integral part of it. A participant in the exercise of being Mother or daughter, but one that the girl activates from her nature.

In this case, how the tradition and sentimental education of an entire culture perceives this relationship collapses. A bond described by many women as a loving tie, of continuity and harmony, but from which Aneta operates from the standpoint of rupture; as if in the exercise of disarticulating power relations within society, there were no sacred zones.

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There's a constant in Aneta's pieces that makes the grotesque and impiety appealing elements. She often works with absence, or absence as an entity. Absence and presence as positives or negatives. Aneta's presence can sometimes be partial, as is the case with Mama. From that incomplete entity stems a questioning of the human condition, revealing an animalistic force that transcends composure. In series before and after Mama, there are beings dominated by impulses that disregard any norms. 


 In Mama, moreover, the Mother is a victim, and the daughter an intrepid victimizer. Their almost superhuman condition presents us with an innocence with which we cannot fully empathize. And it is precisely here where the horror lies: in finding a new narrative within this relationship, a state of being and wanting where the immense has its place.


On the path to that revelation, art sometimes becomes an uncomfortable stance, a disturbing discovery, like finding half-buried heads in the forest.

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