Glasgow based artist Jolanta Dolewska’s exhibition ‘In This Hollow Valley’ straddles the dual discourses around photography as image and object. It combines different elements – hand printed photographs carefully retouched with subtle patches of silver powder; and clay works, moulded in the hands of someone else, but expanded in shape by the exhalation of breath of Dolewska. In that sense there is a third element, that of the physiological.
The work successfully develops her recent Breathless, a series of photographs speculating on the idea of breath, death/life and stillness/movement, by photographing human bodies at the point of exhalation to emphasise shape. Through playing with the form – reshaping, stretching, squeezing and wetting chamois, ‘I was trying to bring them back to life but at the same time forcing the no longer living objects into different shapes. I was moreover looking at fragility of skin, photographing scars and marks on human skin.’
In the current work, which was made for this exhibition at Prospekto Gallery, she retouches the photographic prints with the silver material (inherent to analogue photography), to accentuate, rather than conceal, the ‘imperfections’ on human skin and the dust on photographic prints. ‘I use material which traditionally is valued for its financial or decorative purpose. I would like to draw attention to the way we look and differentiate what is beautiful, how we determine what is desired to be seen on image surfaces and how our aesthetic choices are related to the financial value of things we look at.’ The hand of the artist is indelibly etched on the image surface. Likewise with the objects, the accidental cracks in their surface tell us of their unique and fragile materiality.
Clay works II are clay vessels (fabricated for her), into which she blew air resulting in the expansion of the objects and stretching the walls of the vessels to the point of bursting. Around the ruptures, there are also visible stretchmarks alike ones on human skin.
The body’s vulnerability underpin this work. Dolewska references Agamben’s concept of bare life, where thebody is reduced to biology without political rights. Dolewska asserts that people’s rights and status are very present issues – with current, and upcoming, changes to citizens’ rights, immigration laws in Europe and internationally in the US and other countries.
Gallery name: Prospekto Gallery
Address: Gediminas av. 43, Vilnius
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12:00 - 18:00, Sat 10:00 - 16:00
Open: 02.04.2019 - 04.05.2019