Natalia Wiśniewska: “Giantess”
Natalia Wiśniewska: Giantess
28.07 – 20.08.2017
exhibition opening: 28.07 (Friday), 6 PM / admission free
curated by: Joanna Gwiazda
The Giantess project is a meeting of Martha and Natalia: the title character – a person suffering from severe obesity – and the artist. Its initiator was Marta, who was preparing for gastric resection surgery. At that time she has turned to Natalia and handed herself over to her as an object and a substance. She wanted Natalia to document and artistically transform her struggles with body-enemy. By undertaking this collaboration, they have returned to the situation that occurred sixteen years earlier – Natalia was then preparing for the art academy exams drawing the body of Marta, her first model. However, this amazing intertwine of their relationship is now involving completely different individuals. Martha has become a Giantess – a person who, because of her size, is “overly” visible, and thus exposed to judgement and stigmatised, though every day, like a strongwoman, she is putting a huge effort into ordinary activities, struggling with herself and the environment, fighting for acceptance. On the other hand, Natalia is now a “trained” artist with diploma, having several years of practice already.
Natalia Wiśniewska’s exhibition entitled Giantess is a record of the project that has been undertaken by the artist to – as she says herself – “master her own fear and aversion.” She took an action not in spite of these feelings, but because of them, in order to be able to face her prejudices. The confrontational attitude, emotional dissonance and antinomy fall into the format of her art. The artist is operating in an area that is set by extremes: rationalism and aesthetic calculation plus the tendency to absolute commitment and dedication to work. It is in such designated field where she locates all questions and meanings, where she builds relationships. The area of her studies is also specified by the concepts of gravity (also functioning), balance (also social), comfort and exclusion zones, image and canon (including female body).
The exhibition in the Wozownia Art Gallery is a transposition of artist’s operating principles. In the rooms of so-called Laboratory and Archive as well as in the hallway between them she created a “full” space, built on the dichotomy principle. Just like in the children’s hot/cold play, she is leading us through the amplitude of ambivalent feelings accompanying her encounter with the Giantess. For this relationship is, as it turns out, a “positive effect” of this project – it continues, and its “today’s” record is presented at the exhibition.
The ongoing in time slimming process is demonstrated to us in the hallway between rooms through a table featuring the monthly measurements of weight and girths of particular parts of the Giantess’s body – starting from January 2016 until today. The methodical format of the table makes a cool and rational record that embodies the passing of time (dates of monthly meetings), and the meticulous measurements of Marta’s “dismembered” body. In the Archive, the artist created a kind of activities repository where she placed “things completed”, created during the project, and “things from the past” – from the very beginnings of her relationship with Marta. We find there i.a. photos and videos of Giantess documenting arranged by Natalia situations and challenges – primarily study- and laboratory-like, which would, however, be exposed to the public within the exhibition framework, thus they would function also socially. Next, following the heat/cold play, we are reaching the Laboratory, where the artist has created a secluded and safe space. She put there the “side effect” of her action – the relationship itself. Its form undergoes constant transformation, it is elusive for us. We know for sure that it generates the heat that we can feel and the seeping silence absorbs and consumes all our questions and answers – a new conversation is born, the relationship where we become a participant.
Natalia Wiśniewska – born in 1985 in Lublin. Studied at the University of Arts in Poznań, where in 2010 she obtained a diploma in graphics. The co-founder and the curator of the Miłość (Love) gallery in Toruń. She is a PhD student at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń majoring in the fine arts. The author of installations, objects, site-specific activities. She works contextually combining the simplicity of form with the location and the semantics of language. She is interested in the interface between concepts and meanings. In her work she undertakes research on the relationship and mutual entanglement of an individual in socio-cultural processes. Lives and works in Toruń and Wrocław.