Spot-lit on the gallery’s charcoal gray walls, seventeen photographs show the artist’s daughter Franciszka playing with a doll—a life-size, waist-up replica of the artist herself. Upstairs are a series of self- portraits in which the artist’s face is deformed by the presence of a cosmetic mask. These bodies of work, Mama and Beauty Masks, use dark, probing humor to explore sexuality and feminism, maternity, and the construction (and erasure) of the self.
Over the past two decades, Grzeszykowska has been acclaimed for her wry, unsettling use of performance and photography to investigate the surfaces of the self, as well as the history of feminism and self-representation. Mama is an extension of a previous series, in which the artist worked with artisans to create a silicon replica of herself. Here, she poses her daughter with the doll, showing the child and object in a variety of situations ranging from the idyllic (swimming in a lake) to the grotesque (the girl putting make-up on the doll) to the grim (the doll shrouded in a tarp). The use of this hyper-realistic simulacrum as a stand-in juts the comic up against the uncanny. The images are at times lush and forlorn, at others lurid, but they never lack a sense of self- conscious absurdity.