Joanna Piotrowska (Warsaw, Poland, 1985), lives and works in London. She received a BA in Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts, Cracow, in 2009 and a MA in Photography, at the Royal College of Art, London in 2013. In 2014 MACK Books published her project FROWST. Her solo exhibitions include: Joanna Piotrowska, Dawid Radziszewski Gallery, Warsaw, 2016; Hester, Southard Reid, London, 2015, FROWST, Ethnographic Museum, Cracow, 2015; s.w.a.l.k, Project Space, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland, 2014. Group exhibitions include: What love has to do with it, Project Space, Hayward Gallery, London, 2014; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2013, Give me yesterday, Prada Foundation, Milan, 2016, ROOM, Sadie Coles, London, 2016, These Rotten Words, Chapter Gallery, Cardiff, UK. Joanna is currently working on her second book with Humboldt Books.
The concept of home invokes notions of familiarity, comfort, and bonding. However, one should not to confuse this experience with the simple relationship between body and space—something related to the infinite possibilities of architecture, city, borders and other elements that change from one geographical and cultural context to another. Unlike a constructed element that constitutes an environment, the phenomenon of being oriented—spatially, temporally or socially—by a family order and cultivating affection and identification in relation to a locus is something universal and independent of specific characteristics. It is an emotional relationship of belonging, prone to be developed in any given age, culture or place.
The project developed by Joanna Piotrowska during her residency in the InclusArtiz Institute in Rio de Janeiro starts from these premises towards an interest in the nature of the domestic space and combines the activation of situations with the production of images through photography. Her studies address the intersections of personal, emotional and bodily relationships with architecture and sensations of privacy, security and intimacy. In the search for encounters that can bring out potential manifestations of subjectivity, the artist invites people to receive her in their homes and proposes that they build small temporary shelters—idea inspired by a family photo that registered the familiar domestic game. Starting from a conversation in the space, these structures are mounted freely and later photographed with their inhabitants. This is when lamps, umbrellas and brooms are paired with chairs, books and bed sheets. Insofar as the childish theme is operationalized by adult rationalisation, small bunkers, huts and tents are formed in spaces constituted by actions that aspire to the private and the perennial. It is when a human body joins the exoskeleton formed by improvised props. All very familiar and, paradoxically, very strange.
As we observe the way in which each person reacts in face of the immediate needs and resources available, we identify certain patterns and also distinct personal choices. Icons of everyday mentality, of the subjective place and material possessions of these people emerge.
Finally, to consider the character of these tents built inside common houses leads us to questions regarding the links between material protection and affective den. It is inevitable to reflect upon the place—spiritual and social—of the individual within economic and political organizations. The condition of the homeless, in the streets or as immigrants, thus comes to light as the fragile search for any architecture capable of offering real shelter in the midst of the ever-present eminent apocalypse arises.