Performers of Life …

28-10 - 30-12-2018

One of the strongest and still unbroken cultural taboos is the taboo of the mother rejecting her own child. Hence, the figure of the step-mother–antagonist, fundamental to numerous folk tales, is not merely an evil father’s wife, but rather a less poignant version of a mother repulsing her own child (most often, a daughter).

It is easier to accept harm dealt by an unrelated hand. When, however, the fabular rejection by the foster-mum–mother is customarily brought about by envy and symbolises, psychoanalytically conceived, emancipation of the Self, the child in Joanna Pawlik’s pieces is renounced simply due to his/her ‘faultiness’.

In her exhibition in Shefter Gallery, Joanna Pawlik, long involved in working with people with disabilities, distributes her tale of exclusion over several elements: videos and a cycle of lightboxes. In the story, the figure of “mother – mantis” multiplies and operates on three levels: the toxic mother, who destroys her own child; the matrix, or else the Motherland (a feminine equivalent of a Fatherland), who does not want the child; and Nature, who demands that the child departs.

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The tale, based on true stories and performed by “actors playing themselves”, turns out to far more frightening than any, even the most somber, fable. It becomes a universal her story about every Other pushed beyond the system. A political manifesto. (No more and no less than) a directly delivered, perpetually necessary, call for equality.

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