With the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 exhibition opening 4 November at Jerwood Space, London, we caught up with each of our three Awardees. Here Joanna Piotrowska discusses the Awards and what comes next.

Please tell us briefly about your new body of work.

Inspired by the ideas of Carol Gilligan in which she talks about in her two books: In a different voice and Joining the resistance, I’m returning to self-defence movements. This time I work not only with women, but also with adolescent girls.

According to Carol Gilligan’s book, girls aged between 11 and 17 years old, lose some part of themselves, in order to adjust to patriarchal culture by repressing their inner and honest voice.

The author of the book points to the importance of being faithful to one’s own emotions and liberating oneself from the expectations of a society focused on individualization, dominated by values mainly associated with what is masculine.

She reminds her readers how important it is to think about a person in relation to another person, and she highlights that the need for attachment common for women should be, for mutual benefits, equally respected by man and woman.

I think that the presence of the adolescent girls at a very vulnerable moment in life is an important element of my previous interests related to the roles in family and society. The girls, who mostly appear on the images alone, are seen in position, which points to something that is beyond the crop.

The body is strongly engaged in some sort of interaction which we cannot fully understand, yet the discomfort of the position suggests this interaction is overpowering the subject. Defence or attack isn’t recognisable, their boundaries are fluent and what is left is just a constant struggle and impossibility of ease.


© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

How did the mentoring process influence your approach to making the new work?

Having Gillian Wearing as my mentor was a wonderful experience because she is one of my favourite artists and my thesis was also on works by her. Being able to talk with her about my own works is a priceless opportunity for me, not only because I respect her so much as an artist, but also because, just a few years ago, I wouldn’t think that I would be able to have a dialogue with her on the interests we share. She gave me lots of support and as we all know having support from someone whose practice we admire is a real booster.

© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

What’s next for you?

I’ll be working on three upcoming shows I have planned for 2016. Apart from that, together with Alicja Wysocka, I’m planning to collaborate again with the Pamoja Foundation from Cracow, Poland and to make a work in Mathere slums in Nairobii.


For more information about Joanna’s work click here

For further information about the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 click here. 

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