Her art is personal but not private.
Porcelain arms are dangling down from the ceiling, frozen in a violent movement, white, glossy and seemingly unbearable. Beneath a projection of a similar arm; growing from a tiled bathroom-like floor. The tiles are strong, white and glossy. The arm is misplaced and exposed, water is pouring down on it. Slowly the arms break Over and over again it breaks. Over and over again the arm finds its pieces and somehow heals itself. It’s like a crime scene, so home-like, so hostile.
New setting: In a room filled with wine drinking spectators and ceramic objects on plinths, a woman in a shiny black dress, heels and glasses walks around with a deformed torso in front of her. She is asking people if they want a piece of her. “I want all of it” a man says. “you need to choose” says the woman in the shiny black dress. “Ok, than right breast”. She is engaging herself in small talk with different people, holding the deformed torso in front of her like shield. Finally she raises her voice, asking the whole crowd “Does anyone want a piece of me?” Then she smashes the torso into the floor, it breaks, she walks away. It is a scene from a gallery, not home-like but still not public.
These two works are made by Maria Jj Juchnowska (“Violence is weakness” 2009 and “Piece of me” 2012) and in her universe the private and the political are blurred, but the settings are always sharp. In this retrospective exhibition called Retrospective Transformations, Juchnowska shows 8 years of work. An impressive body of work made by a young artist who challenge traditional sub- jects, traditional materials in an untraditional way. In an artist statement she claims “My work is personal but not private”. In a time when private and personal as concepts are collapsed, this statement means something very different than it did used by the feminist movement in the 1970s. It creates a tension and even a negotiation that is very present in Juchnowska’ s work. A work that is upfront but never as easy as it first seems.
Zandra Ahl, Professor at Konstfack University and Headmaster at Beckmans Design University, Stockholm, Sweden.