Critics’ Picks

Aneta Grzeszykowska, Selfie #12b, 2015, pigment ink on cotton, 19 x 23". From the “Selfie” series, 2014–15.

Aneta Grzeszykowska, Selfie #12b, 2015, pigment ink on cotton, 19 x 23". From the “Selfie” series, 2014–15.

New York

Aneta Grzeszykowska

195 Chrystie Street
September 7–October 16, 2016

Lyles & King
21 Catherine Street
September 7–October 16, 2016

Skin, with all of its imperfections, wraps itself around the core of Aneta Grzeszykowska’s two-venue exhibition, “No/Body.” At 11R Gallery, a series of macabre photographs, “Selfie,” 2014–15, depicts bizarre lumps of stylized flesh—pigskin that’s been realistically modeled after (mostly female) body parts. Each sickening, deftly produced picture offers up a mongrel kind of beauty, straight from the cinematic annals of horror and science fiction. A hypnotic video, Bolimorfia, 2008–2010, shows the artist, nude, engaged in a surreal ballet, choreographed to a score by Maurice Ravel. Additional dancers, very much like doppelgängers, also nude, join Grzeszykowska—their collective motions are fluid, like a sinister gang of synchronized swimmers.

At Lyles & King, another video, Negative Process, 2014, provides crucial context for the thirteen black-and-white photographs from the series “Negative Book,” 2012–13, displayed nearby. In the video, Grzeszykowska stands naked before the camera, meticulously applying deep-black paint to her body. It’s an old photography trick—when Grzeszykowska’s black-and-white portrait is solarized, she appears illuminated, apparitional. In the center of the gallery floor sits the physical manifestation of this battle between light and dark: two life-size dolls—Franciszka 2024, 2015–16, a speculative portrait of the artist’s daughter in the titular year, sheathed in white wool; and Untitled (Skin Doll), 2016, a figure in black fetish leather.

Grzeszykowska doesn’t address the racial implications of making her white skin black. Nonetheless, her perverse pictures do succeed in expressing an undeniable feeling of otherness and apprehension. Each photograph from “Negative Book” should be joyous—a family dinner, a day at the beach, tender moments between mother and daughter. But Grzeszykowska is the glowing opposite of her family and friends, a radioactive vision of discomfort and anxiety.