The rich body of work of Teresa Gierzyńska (b. 1947), sculptor, photographer and graphic artist, still remains unknown to the general public. The large, monographic exhibition at the Zachęta, accompanied by an extensive publication, provides for the first time a full insight into the artist’s original work, situated at the intersection of various disciplines and media. The exhibition’s title is taken from Lauren Berlant’s book "Female Complaint. The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture" (2008). It offers an excellent commentary on art that grew out of opposition to the images of femininity and stereotypes about the social role of women and their ideal lives as mediated by mass culture.
The artist explores the fringes of photography, using it as a record of her performative practice, and experiments with methods of its reproduction and processing. She introduces into art visual elements taken from mass culture and its techniques. The exhibition is built around the most important series: "About Her" and "The Essence of Things." The first one consists of photographic self-portraits created over several decades, and later also of portraits of the artist’s teenage daughter. The second is a collection of recycled collages made of the images of women taken from the magazines, in which the artist confronts the male gaze and the iconography (both artistic and popular) of female representations as objects of desire. The works exemplify the subtle, intimate feminist language developed by Gierzyńska to explore and discover female identity, and to talk about one’s own corporeality and sexuality.