Thu, 5 November – Sun, 9 December 2020
At Artissima Unplugged 2020, we present Joanna Rajkowska. Taking the concept of empathy further, Rajkowska developed a series of masks combining both animal and human elements. She collected objects in the forest near her country house: traces of animals like fur and bones, but also remnants of human existence such as cables and beer cans, insignificant waste items discarded in the forest.
Mask with Roe Deer’s Skull and Spine consists of a mask shaped as a human face, made from papier-mâché, and painted a luminous gold. Colourful, spikey strands of hair sprout outwards, which on closer look turn out to be made from thin strips of beer cans. The bone of a deer’s spine is sticking out like a tongue, the deer’s skull worn on the forehead like a decorative hat, suggesting both a playfulness and something much darker. In Mask with Badger’s Skull and Roe Deer’s Vertebra, Rajkowska has taken parts of two different animals. The mask on top of a steel pole has human dimensions, but the face is coated in fur and has a badger’s skull for a mouth. Human and animal are so fully integrated that only the eye sockets, painted in the deepest, brightest blue, remind us that this is, in fact, an object of art, skilfully and
thoughtfully put together by the artist.
Part folk art, part magic, part play – these mask-sculptures have an uplifting, life-affirming presence. But at the same time, they hint at something deeper: a powerful, almost shamanic sense of ritual. Adorning human masks with parts of animals, Rajkowska suggests that we can put ourselves in the animals’ skin, even become them.
From 5 November, the fair’s online catalogue will present works selected by the galleries for their booths in the 2020 edition of the fair.