For several years, Warsaw as seen from the window of the Mariola Przyjemska’s studio has been the main subject of the artist’s paintings, photograph series, and films. In her work, the glistening steel and glass skyscrapers blend with synonyms of luxury such as expensive skincare products and makeup. For Przyjemska, the new urban landscape is a “city of the spectacle” – a “city of things” where consumers hunt for swag that is meant to make them feel whole again. New constructions and gadget-like buildings replace urban harmony and spaces designated for communities and greenery. Addicted to shopping malls, residents – as aptly described by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle – become “spectres,” the ghosts of their former selves. Cities are subject to a “culture of separation”: a separation from others and from oneself.
During the pandemic, Przyjemska filmed her observations. For several hours a day, construction work takes place on a future skyscraper outside her window. Another tall office building will stand about ten meters from the windows of the apartment building where the artist lives and works, and whose lower floors have already been cut off from daylight, as they find themselves in a shaded space between buildings. The onerous construction scares her, but also provides the artist with a prime view from her window. Przyjemska appreciates the drama that plays out daily right in front of her eyes, the incomprehensible choreography of machinery and people: “Drilling makes the building vibrate. The arms of the cranes almost crash into the walls.”
(b. 1963) – painter and creator of photographs and objects, a graduate of Tadeusz Dominik’s studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Together with Zbigniew Libera, she ran the legendary Aurora Aurora in Warsaw’s Powiśle – one of the most important spaces of artistic life in early 21st-century Poland. In her paintings and photographs, she critically examines the changes in patterns of consumption, the social position of women, and the changes in the landscape of Warsaw during the period of political transformation. In Przyjemska’s work, skyscrapers rising outside the windows of the artist’s studio blend in with the symbols of luxury, such as expensive skincare products and makeup. For the artist, the new urban landscape is the “city of the spectacle,” the “city of things,” that offers gimmicky buildings instead of urban harmony and greenery.
Rok powstania: 1998-2001
gouache, ink, pencil, cardboard. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Batorczak.