Krystyna Piotrowska Her Hair
18.10.2013 - 19.01.2014
At Krystyna Piotrowska’s individual exhibition we will be presenting video, object and installation. In spite of the variety of the media used, the artist’s sole topic is hair. In her works, she demonstrates the cultural significance of hair. We associate hair with beauty; it is woman’s crowning glory, however, because of its sexual connotations, its image in art is ambiguous. One of the threads of the exhibition is related to the artist’s own heritage. In Judaic culture, female hair should be hidden under a scarf; the most extreme Orthodox Jewish women have their heads shaved and their hair replaced by a wig. In the two-part video Her Hair, we can see the artist plaiting hair of women, who then free themselves of their constraining locks, the symbol of the conventional and cultural restrictions placed on women. The object Carpet, made out of multi-coloured hair, completes the exhibition. It brings historical connotations – the Holocaust and images familiar from concentration camps. The sight of cut hair can be repulsive. A carpet as an object is part of our everyday life, as is a printed wall pattern, with a long plait of hair snaking against its background. The interior has been arranged as a living space. The artist placed her hair objects in a mundane environment as an attempt to drive home the connotations of death and oppression that hair acquired in the 20th century, in the context of the Holocaust.
Krystyna Piotrowska (b. 1949) – graduate in interior design in Krakow and graphic design in Poznań. She made her début with graphic art – portraits that appear to be symbolic rather than realistic representations. Self-portrait is a recurrent motif in her work. The artist displays a gamut of personalities that all appear authentic. In the 1980s, under Martial Law, together with her husband, she emigrated to Sweden where she continued to develop her graphic art. In 2001 she returned to Warsaw. Since 2005 she has been involved in the project that takes place each year in Próżna Street in Warsaw, in the preserved part of the ghetto. This has been a watershed in Piotrowska’s work – the artist has highlighted her Jewish heritage and has enhanced her perception of herself and her Jewish identity with the experiences and feelings of others. She has analysed the issue of the absence of Jews in Poland as well as the contemporary relations between both nations. She employs traditional media as well as making objects, installations and videos. In her works, she also deals with the theme of memory and passing away, using such items as the clothes of those who had died.