Teresa Gierzyńska’s “Women Live for Love”
              Ewa Borysiewicz
              Viewers are caught in a crossfire at the start of Polish photographer Teresa Gierzyńska’s first major retrospective. On the facing walls of Zachęta National Gallery hang two self-portraits. The black-and-white images Left-handed I and Left-handed II (both 1980) show the artist pointing a crude reflex camera towards the center of the gallery. With this simple gesture, she communicates that she’s in charge here. Born in 1947, Gierzyńska trained as a sculptor in the studio of Oskar Hansen, who encouraged her “to experiment, to question the existing rules.” Gierzyńska’s experiment is not merely formal or technical, but extends to challenging the patriarchic status quo. It is, first and foremost, an existential decision: a way of living and making art. The “About Her” series (1979–present) introduces a number of the techniques by which Gierzyńska pursues this project, and this first part of the show is prefaced by a revealing quote from the artist: “I talk about intimacy, love, loneliness, femininity, motherhood, puberty, relationships […] in a rather quiet voice, even a whisper.” Her photographs are colored with aniline, while details are added with pen and pencil; other images are copied and reframed. These intimate pieces cover one wall without an immediately discernible order, resembling …

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