Agata Wieczorek

Second Skin

“The recent popularity of images of female masochism expresses not only sexual fantasy, but also refers to women’s position in contemporary culture. Depersonalization is thought to be one of the most radical forms of masochism. Depersonalization is a denial of independence. In the times of rapid changes and when women negotiate new social positions and build an identity based on “independence,” can the feeling of weakness and powerlessness have an emancipatory dimension? Could objectification on demand gives a sense of liberation from cultural conventions?”   – Curatorial text by Zofia Krawiec accompanying the Masochists exhibition, ZONA gallery, Szczecin, PL 17.05–15.06.2019, published at SZUM magazine.

Skin is an ambiguous construct. It is the external cover of the body, its soft and firm protection, as well as its visual representation. Yet, as it wraps the body tightly, it cannot be taken off nor changed. It not only represents the body but also dooms it to the definite form. It is skin that signalizes individual’s identity which criteria – gender, race, age – are frequently used and imposed as fixed definitions to structure political, economic and social hierarchies.

The photographic series is combined of self-portraits in the silicone costumes imitating the female face and body, used by men practicing Masking fetish. While for Maskers wearing the female costume means emancipation, for me posing in a hampering, silicone disguise was a perplexing experience.

In the present, women are building their new social identity on independence. Demonstrating a proving independence and power can be a demanding “costume” to wear. Wearing the naked female body costume seemed at the same time expose and disguise, identify and depersonalize myself.

The self disguise and self-portrait became a subversive experiment that turned the photographic record into a  performative process, drawing out the complex relation between submission and emancipation.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Wieczorek’s practice combines film and photography while moving between constructed documentary and documented fiction. She frequently operates with concealment and visibility, by entering and working with hermetic industries and socially marginalized groups in order to explore unexposed production and consumption of cultural “fetishes” — artefacts that represent the tabooed desires and utopian endeavours with reference to the body, gender and identity.

Her works have been exhibited and awarded internationally, including the Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki; Capa Center of Contemporary Photography, Budapest; Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts (works in collection), Japan; among others. She is the Parallel European Photo-Based Platform 2nd Cycle Laureate in the New Artist category and HELLERAU Photography 2020 – Center for Contemporary Arts Residency Award winner. She currently studies at Le Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains. She previously graduated from the National Film School in Lodz, Poland (Master degree with distinction, Direction of Photography), and from the Strzeminski Art Academy in Lodz (MFA with distinction), where she studied traditional techniques: painting and fine art printing.