Agnes Janich

Review 1

Rzeczpospolita ( Polish nationwide daily newspaper), 07 / 31 / 06
Art Exhibition – Agnes Jeziorska [ now Janich ] in Atheneum Gallery
Painful Experiments on Dolls

She studied abroad as well as in Poland under Tomek Sikora. Agnes Jeziorska’s debut [ incorrect, it was the 7th solo show in Poland, but 1st major exhibition in Warsaw, the capital ] . Monika Malkowska

The series of black and white photographs is entitled Human. Tricky. Some of the pictures portray, in fact, people – met in various places, accidentally. These are juxtaposed with images of dolls – puppets, mannequins, girls’ playthings.

What’s striking – at first glance one can’t differentiate between faces: real and constructed. Only after a while the striking difference between the boring regularity of dolls’ masks and the fascinating variety of human features become apparent. The artist finds human putting on faces, which often merge with real ones, uncanny. It is a youthful concern – life’s like that, it always has been.

In my opinion the second part of the presentation, Ward, is far more uncanny. No people’s portraits here – the characters are dolls. Jeziorska experiments with them, creating specific still lives. We can see a dolls’ head surrounded by three pairs of hands torn from smaller dolls’ corpses. A crab with a human face. Dreadful. Another idea: between the legs of a bigger doll lies a corpse of a little one. The bigger one sits there all dressed up, indifferent to the naked, abandoned child.

At first I associated what I saw with sadistically erotic works of Hans Bellmer, the German-French surrealist. He, too, was fascinated by dolls and mannequins – he made drawings and fabricated strange doppelgangers with multiple heads and legs.

But no, Jeziorska isn’t into sexual phantasies. What inspired here were medical experiments carried out by sadistic physicians on defenseless patients. Tortures justified by scientific progress. Neurologists from the Parisian hospital of Salpetriere, raping their teenage patients; Nazi doctors determined to create genetic mutants. All of them feeling at liberty in aiming for a better man. Today all that is left are photographic documents, printed as postcards meant to educate future generations.

Agnes Jeziorska showed the horror and barbarity of these medical experiments using dolls. What resulted is a remarkably intense body of work with an exceptional aura. Seemingly surreal, yet about reality.

© 2003 - 2018 Agnes Janich