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2018, TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art, Szczecin, Poland

The artist uses photo documentation of suicide attacks over the last few decades. Taken in Indonesia, Russia, Israel and Pakistan, the photographs are juxtaposed with almost identical images featuring the artist’s living body in the place of the remains of the perpetrators. The information that accompanies each image comes from the relevant press agency or media hosting the image and is an inseparable part of the project.

Rajkowska uses a format inspired by trivision rotating signs. A predecessor was a ‘simultaneous’ image of two saints painted on a concertina-like wooden panel so that each was visible from one side only. Instead of layering the images in a photographic collage, this technique emphasizes the difference – in order to see it, you need to change your point of view.

The Suiciders works are devoid of any ethical imperative, they do not pose questions about the value of life or suggest better solutions, they do not reflect on the complex reasons for the dramatic decision to take one’s own life or the lives of other people. The project Suiciders does not simply diagnose or recount suicide cases. It describes the artist’s relationship with the women who committed suicide themselves or sent other women on suicide missions.

According to Rajkowska, the essence of the work is “(…) a feeling of inability. It concerns the inability to feel true empathy, the inability to understand a woman (…) who attempts to destroy herself, at the same time terminating the lives of others. My point is that I have never reached such border, such a state of body and mind. Sitting in a comfortable European country, we can only feel schadenfreude, an inner satisfaction that these atrocities do not happen to us.
“When I ‘Iend’ my body to the woman whose body was torn by an explosion, I do not do it for real. Photoshop allows the illusion of presence at the site of the suicide attack; the lighting is set up for the photo shoot, but in reality I am not – and will not be – there. While working on the photo, particularly during the photo session, I realize the difference, the distance and the inability to participate in the act. Art neither brings anything closer nor does it help in anything or ‘lend’ the body. The only thing that really happens is an act of a profound difference.“
[Joanna Rajkowska]

                                                                                                                    all photographs below - Tomasz Koszewnik

Joanna Rajkowska, Dikwa, 11.09.2016 | Nigeria, 77cm x 50cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Maiduguri, 16.10.2015 | Nigeria, 105 x 100 cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Aden, 26.03.2016 | Yemen, 231cm x 110cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Baghdad, 3.03.2008| Iraq, 189 x 100 cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Trincomalee, 2.03.2000 | Sri Lanka, 53 cm x 50cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Jerusalem, 22.09.2004 | Izrael/Palestyna, 77 cm x 70cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Peshavar, 4.12.2007 | Pakistan, 140 cm x 110cm

Joanna Rajkowska, Tushino, 5.07.2003 | Russian Federation, 94.5 cm x 90cm










curator: Emilia Orzechowska
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Tom Jeffreys about Suiciders Suiciders pdf 1,6MB