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Julita Wójcik

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Julita Wójcik, Teddy Bears, 2000, photo: Jacek Niegoda
Julita Wójcik, Teddy Bears, 2000, photo: Jacek Niegoda

Performance artist, author of happenings, diver. Wójcik was born on 1st June 1971 in Gdańsk, where she still lives and works. 

In the years 1991-1997 Wójcik studied at Faculty of Sculpture of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. Prof. Franciszek Duszeńsko was the academic supervisor of her diploma.

In 2013 Wójcik received the Polityka Passport Award for Visual Arts in 2012, the Royal Scottish Academy Award and Sztorm 2012 – an award given by the Tricity edition of Gazeta Wyborcza. In 2014 the artist was given the cultural prize Wdechy 2013 (granted by the magazine Co Jest Grane) for her installation piece Rainbow. She was also nominated for the 2013 Anna Laszuk Award granted by TOK FM Radio.

Everyday life

Julita Wójcik, Peeling potatoes, 2001, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, photo: Jacek Niegoda
Julita Wójcik, Peeling potatoes, 2001, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, photo: Jacek Niegoda

By incorporating everyday activities in her projects she questions the boundaries between the spheres of life and art. In her works, Julita Wójcik makes use for the most part of simple, everyday home activities, usually attributed to women, and transforms them into artistic activities. On the one hand, she underlines their unquestionable charm, on the other however, in the artist's works, one can find critical approach to the stereotypes connected with the so-called female roles. For the project Marzenie prowincjonalnej dziewczyny (Dream of a Provincial Girl) the artist presented Misie (Teddy Bears) - 64 knitted teddy bears hung on a wall like a wallpaper. This ironic commentary on the notions of needs and aspirations of women was shown in a private apartment in Sopot that served as a gallery, run by Wójcik together with Paulina Ołowska and Lucy McKenzie in February and March 2000. In the same year, on the lawn area between the carriageways of Władyslaw IV Street in Gdynia, she constructed Mój ogród (My Garden), a flower bed of a few square meters, which she neatly tended, and where she organised picnics. In 2001, in the centre of Zielona Góra Wójcik created a little water reservoir - Oczko wodne (Pond).

Her first major performance piece Obieranie ziemniaków (Peeling Potatoes) was presented in the Zachęta National Gallery in Warsaw in 2001, has been widely discussed. During the performance, dressed in an apron, the artist peeled potatoes while engaging in conversation with gallery visitors, and in interviews with journalists. Her actions were legitimised and sanctified by the institution, which hosted the performance. With her action, Wójcik called attention to the situation of many women in Poland - the role of housewife they are reduced to.

The meaning of the artists' actions is ambivalent. Their undeniably critical undertone mingles with definite respect for everyday activities and little hobbies. For her exhibition Komplety (Sets) in 2005, in the Arsenal Gallery in Bialystok, she invited two embroideresses, who presented their craft together with the artist. The exhibition space was filled with fancywork and items that were bringing to mind the notion of province disappearing into oblivion. At the same exhibition, the artist presented an embroidered model of the Arsenal Gallery. A similar object appeared at the exhibition Palimpsest museum (Palimpsest museum, as a part of the Łódź Biennial 2004) – an embroidered miniature of the Poznański Palace in Łódź (100% Bawełny / 100% Cotton, 2004). In a similar manner, though requiring a much greater amount of labour, Falowiec (Wavy Building, 2005-2006) was made, a model of the longest apartment building in Poland, standing in Gdańsk’s Przymorze district.

Socio-politcal matters

Julita Wójcik, Figure Skating, 2005, Sopot, photo: Jacek Niegoda
Julita Wójcik, Figure Skating, 2005, Sopot, photo: Jacek Niegoda

Some of Julita Wojcik's performances take on a clearly socio-political character. In 2003, she was sweeping the floors of a former factory building in Łódź, pointing to the fate of many female textile workers after the closing down of the factories. The performance was documented on video and photographed as Pozamiatać po włókniarkach (Sweeping after Textile Workers). A year earlier, she tried to Revitalise the Schopenhauer Park (Rewitalizacja Parku Schopenhauera, 2002) in the notorious Orunia district in Gdańsk, where, for a certain time, she brought three goats from the Oliwa Zoo. Eating the weeds, shearing the grass, and being an attraction for the children, the goats' were supposed to restore order in this corner of the city, long forgotten by the local authorities. On Gradowa Mountain in Gdańsk in turn, the artist placed a blue sandbox with white clouds painted on it, as a contrast to the gigantic steel cross standing there (Piaskownica z widokiem / Sandbox with a View, 2002).

During the action Waitresses, performed twice (in Warsaw, 2002, and in Stockholm, 2003), Wójcik stood as a waitress next to a customers' table, dressed in an apron that served, at the same time, as the tablecloth, as if, with her obtrusive presence, she wanted to call attention to the labour of the people preparing and serving food.

In 2003 in Berlin the artist, while standing next to a traffic light post, informed the drivers about the current colour of the traffic light, wilfully guarding the order Czerwony, zolty, zielony (Red, Yellow, Green). Another of her ironic performances, Z ziemi wloskiej do Polski... i z powrotem (From Italian Soil to Poland... and back) took place in Rome, in 2005, during which she washed a Fiat 126p, the popular Maluch (midget), produced in Poland on an Italian license since the 1970s.

Despite its frequently critical undertone, Julita Wójcik's art has always been of cheerful character. During the performance Dokarmiaj niebieskie ptaki (Feed the Heavenly Birds, 2003-2005) she built and distributed bird feeders, the shape of which resembled that of the institutions she currently co-operated with. The video documenting the performance Pust' Wsiegda budiet solnce (2004,) shows the artist flying a sun-shaped kite. In 2004, in Kostrzyn she reconstructed the local castle, currently in ruins, with the use of a few hundred accordingly placed balloons. However, it was an ephemeral structure - the castle flew away during the reconstruction Odbudowa zamku (Rebuilding the Castle). 

In 2005 Julita Wójcik began putting on performances of her interpretaton of the figure represented by the pictograph on the door of women's toilets, named Gilala. Dressed in a black sponge costume, the artist, as Gilala, skated on Sopot's ice rink (Jazda Figurowa / Figure Skating, 2005), and in Prague, during the biennial, she tried to cover the figure of Saint Nepomucene on the Charles Bridge (Figura pomnikowa / Monument Figure, 2005).

In 2007, Wójcik took up the poetic project If You See Something Say Something (2007) after she’s been invited to take part in an exhibition in Norway. She took the titular phrase from a propaganda action conducted in New York. It was supposed to increase the inhabitants’ attention to any suspicious persons, objects, and actions, at the same time increasing the anti-terrorist hysteria that broke out after 9/11 attacks. Wójcik took up the role of a propaganda medium and repeated the directions through a megaphone: ‘Be suspicious of anything unattended’. However, she was doing this on her very own, surrounded by the Norwegian fjords. As the artist explained:

So if this call, "if you see something say something" is impossible to respond to, it’s because the sights are so beautiful that you’re speechless and that’s it.

The importance of art, the position of the artist

Julita Wójcik, still from Unist landscape video, 2007, photo: Gessel Foundation
Julita Wójcik, still from Unist landscape video, 2007, photo: Gessel Foundation

History of art is the context of many of Wójcik’s actions. She is particularly interested in the issues of secondary usage of artistic works, museification, and the relationship between art and reality. All of these have, of course, been taken up with a sense of humour that is typical of the artist. For the opening of the new edifice of Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, called ms2, Wójcik organised Wyścig na 3600 ms2 (3600 ms2 race). After the last speech, a starting pistol was shot – it was a signal beginning a run through the 3600 square meters of the new exhibition space. The artist was running among the guests wearing a white sports outfit, slaloming through the exhibits.

In some of her realisations Wójcik made ironic and playful references to abstract art by juxtaposing it with everyday life. In Centrum Rzeźby Polskiej (Polish Sculpture Centre) in Orońsk Wójcik read the works of Władysław Strzemiński, the creator of unism movement, surrounded by cows pasturing on the nearby field. Their spots resembled the stains from the painter’s unist paintings or, to put it differently, ‘afterimages’ (Pejzaż unistyczny / Unist landscape, 2007). As the artist further elaborated on the matter:

I’m trying to show that everybody can take part in creating contemporary art, everyone can participate. This is why I work like an amateur. I thought I would be able to realise an action where the cows would be creating in the presence of viewers – and eat unist compositions in the grass. But all in all they themselves became the unist composition.

As part of the Przebudzenie (Awakening) project in Świeć, Wójcik organised a hurdles race. She covered the hurdles with a striped, black and white canvas, resembling the pattern frequently used by the French artist Daniel Buren (Dyscyplina abstrakcyjna / Abstract discipline, 2009). The hurdles have been replaced with abstractionist paintings. As Wójcik explained:

As a result we get a reversion of Buren’s artistic praxis, which transformed itself into theoretical activity.

The curator of the action, Karina Dzieweczyńska, wrote:

The abstract discipline is the attempt to make the fact that art emerges from every seemingly normal activity visible. Isn’t 100-metre hurdles race an abstract action?

In 2009 in Wigry, where Dom Pracy Twórczej (Home for Creative Work) has operated until recently in a former monastery, Wójcik organised Kąpielisko (Bathing site), once again applying the logic drawn from abstract art to everyday life. The opening of Kąpielisko DPT Wigry (DPT Wigry Bathing Site) took place on August 30th, the ribbon was cut by the director of Dom Pracy Twórczej, Agnieszka Tarasiuk, and the children and teenagers Wójcik cooperated with performed a number of abstractionist bathing compositions.

Tęcza (The Rainbow)

Julita Wójcik and the Rainbow, photo: Kuba Dąbrowski / Agencja Gazeta
Julita Wójcik and the Rainbow, photo: Kuba Dąbrowski / Agencja Gazeta

It was also in Wigry, in the following year, that Tęcza (The Rainbow, 2010) was created. The arch, covered with faux flowers, was brining together the wall of the monastery and the slope the edifice is located at. The artist used a universal symbol – of God’s presence, covenant, the bridge of love, peace,  mercy, hope, but also emancipation of sexual minorities. In a series of artistic projects realised in the public space of Brussels and called Fossils and Gardens, which took place as part of the celebrations of the first year of the Polish EU Presidency, Wójcik created a similar rainbow in a square in front of the European Parliament. From 2012 to 2015, from the initiative of Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Tęcza was located in the middle of the busy Plac Zbawiciela (Saviour Square). It was put on fire several times by identified and unidentified perpetrators, becoming one of the symbols of Warsaw and a part of national discourse. 

As Wójcik said in an interview for

It made it visible in public light that there is a part in Polish society which is open for discussion, for otherness, and another part which is conservative, traditionalist, and which has a problem with accepting the presence of people who follow different values. The meaning of the Rainbow in Warsaw made it manifest that we can no longer pretend that we do not have a socially pertinent problem with otherness, with tolerating people that think differently than we do, that follow principles which are not the same as our own.

Another work dealing with the condition of Polish society, which also referred to the situation of artists and their freedom, was the installation piece Bunkier (Bunker, 2014). Wójcik presented it in a park in front of the Abbot’s Palace in the Oliwa district of Gdańsk, where the Department of Modern Art of National Museum is located. She designed a small fortification – a balloon on which pictures of real bunkers from Gdynia were printed. As the artist further explained:

One can hide in the Bunker to feel safe, but you can also use it to attack, as it has windows for shooting. It’s like the personal space of freedom of every human.

The object is inflatable, because it speaks of dangers and conflicts that contemporary creators and viewers face. These are frequently blown out of proportion in our heads.

Artist keep on getting attacked. Politicians, because it is mostly them who pose accusations, claim that artist offend religious feelings. … Scandal is never the intention of an artist.

The theme of oppression, this time economical, was also taken up in the project created for the Kraj Przeszły / Kraj Przyszły exhibition (Country of the Past / Country of the Future) in Ateliê Espai in Belo Horizonte, organised as part of the programme promoting Polish culture in Brazil in 2016. Together with Jacek Niegoda they realised project inspired by the 90-year-long history of the Lalka sweets factory, established by a Polish immigrant. Wróżby ekonomiczne (Economic fortune-telling) by Wójcik is a new product for Lalka’s assortment – chocolate hearts with economic auguries written for the Brazilians by the artist. As Wójcik further explained:

Just like most people on this Earth, they are not free from economic traps set up by banks and other financial organisations. As a result they struggle with, for instance, paying installments.

Written by Karol Sienkiewicz, November 2006. Updates: June 2012, January 2013; Agnieszka Sural: November 2016. Updates translated by NS, December 2016.


Selected individual projects and exhibitions:

  • 2000 - Pranie mózgu / Brainwashing - Mózg, Bydgoszcz;
  • 2000/2001 - Mój ogród / My Garden - Wladyslaw IV Street, Gdynia;
  • 2001 - Obieranie ziemniaków / Peeling Potatoes - Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Oczko wodne - BWA, Zielona Gora; Akwarele / Watercolours - lake Ukiel, Olsztyn;
  • 2002 - Rewitalizacja Parku Schopenhauera / Revitalisation of the Schopenhauer Park - Gdynia Orunia; Piaskownica z widokiem / Sandbox with a View - Gradowa Mountain, Gdańsk;
  • 2003 - Tit's Bathouse - Konstakuten Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden; Cacka / Bijous/Gems/Knickknacks - Platán Gallery, Budapest, Hungary;
  • 2005 - Komplety / Sets - Arsenal Gallery, Białystok; Dokarmiaj niebieskie ptaki / Feed the Heavenly Birds - garden of the Ministry of Art and Culture, Warsaw; Z ziemi wloskiej do Polski... i z powrotem / From Italian Soil to Poland... and Back - Polish Institute, Rome, Italy; Ćwiczenia w różach / Excercises in Roses - garden at Sobotka Street, Gdansk;
  • 2006 - Z nadzieją i niecierpliwością / With Hope and Impatiency - Kordegarda Gallery, Warsaw; Uwaga: akcja! / Ready, set, Action! - as a part of the project At the very Centre of Attention, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw.
  • 2009 - Kąpielisko, Dom Pracy Twórczej, Wigry; Scottish Tides Polish Spring, Threshold artspace, Perth
  • 2010 - Tęcza / Rainbow, Dom Pracy Twórczej, Wigry
  • 2012 - Tęcza / Rainbow, Saviour Square, Warsaw; Falowiec / Wavy Block, Platan Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2013 - Dron / Drone, Śląski Park in Chorzów;  Bunkier / Bunker, Oliwski Park in front of the Abbott's Palace, Gdańsk
  • 2016 - Bez widoków / Without a View, GGM2, Gdańsk

Selected group exhibitions:

  • 2000 - Principium - Spiz 7 Gallery, Gdansk; Scena 2000 / Scene 2000 - Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Warkocze / Braids - Centre for Contemporary Art, Cracow;
  • 2001 - Maskarady / Mascarades - Centre for Contemporary Art Inner Spaces, Poznan; Relaks / Relax - Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok; Pop Elita / Pop Elite - Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow; Poza postmodernizm / Beyond Postmodernism - Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw;
  • 2002 - Sposob na zycie / A Way of Life - Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk; Rzeczywiscie, Młodzi sa realistami / The Young are Realists, Really - Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw; Pomaluj swój plener / Paint Your Plein-air - Ponton Gallery, Hamburg;
  • 2003 - Architectures of Gender - Sculpture Center, New York, USA; Stockholm Art Fair - Stockholm, Sweden; Öffentliche Rituale. Kunst / Videos aus Polen - Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria; Balet żurawi / Crane Ballet - Artists' Colony, Gdansk-Stocznia (shipyard); Kobieta ma duszę / The Woman has a Soul - Manhattan Gallery, Lodz; Piętra Sztuki / Floors of Art - Program Gallery, Warsaw; Spojrzenia 2003 / Views 2003 - Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Arsenal Gallery, Bialystok (2004);
  • 2004 - Palimpsest muzeum / Palimpsest Museum - Lodz Biennial, Museum of History of the City of Lodz; Dialog Loci - Kostrzyn nad Odrą; Biały mazur / The White Mazurka - Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow; Nowa fabryka / New Factory - Paris, France (Festival); Meeting point 'Prawie nic' / Meeting Point 'Almost Nothing' - Bytom; Krzątanina II / Hustle and Bustle II - BWA Awangarda, Wroclaw; Shake Gdansk - Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk; Far West, Near East - Kunst & Architektur, Essen, Germany; Breakthrough - Grote Kerk, The Hague;
  • 2005 - Prague Biennale 2 - Prague, Czech; Beograd Naked i Sad - Galerija Beograd, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro; Egocentryczne, niemoralne, przestarzałe / Egocentric, Immoral, Outdated - Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw;
  • 2006 - How to Do Things? - In the Middle of (No)where - Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany; Sense in Place - Riga, Latvia; Inhabitancy - Motorenhalle, Dresden, Germany; Powrót do ogrodu. Rośliny i zwierzeta / Return to the Garden. Plants and Animals - Tielt, Belgium; Policja / Police - Bunkier Sztuki, Cracow; Mentality - Łódź Biennial, Łódź Art Centre.
  • 2007 - Gra / Game, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; - Tu nie ma miejsca na sztukę /  No Place for Art Over Here, Polish Institute, Vienna; - Malarstwo polskie XXI wieku / Polish Painting of the 21st Century, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; - Muzeum jako świetlany przedmiot pożądania / Museum as a Luminous Object of Desire, Museum of Art, Łódź; - Czarna dziura / Black Hole, Kronika Gallery, Bytom; - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ON Gallery, Poznań; - Zamieszkanie / Inhabiting, BWA, Wrocław; - 7th Baltic Contemporary Art Biennale, Modern Art Galleries, branch of National Museum, Szczecin; - Don't worry - Be curious!, 4th Ars Baltica Triennial of Photographic Art, Bergen, Norway; - Betonowe dziedzictwo. Od LeCorbusiera do blokersów / Concrete Legacy. From Le Corbusier to the Homeboys, CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw
  • 2008 - Punkty odniesienia / Points of Reference, National Museum, Warsaw; - Manual CC, CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw; - Bifurkacje / Bifurcations, Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko; Appendix2 Gallery, Warsaw; - Efekt czerwonych oczu. Polska fotografia XXI wieku / The Red Eye Effect. Polish Photography in the 21st Century, CCA Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw; - Artysta w rezygnacji / Artist in Resignation, Raster Gallery, Warsaw; - W sprzecznym mieście. Dokumenty tożsamości / In the City Full of Contradictions, Manhattan Gallery, Łódź
  • 2009 - Na okrągło: 1989-2009 / Over and Over Again: 1989-2009, Hala Stulecia, Wrocław; - Poszliśmy do Croatan / We Went to Croatan, CCA Znaki Czasu, Toruń; - Energy Class B, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast; - Gender Check, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; - Przebudzenie Miasto Świecie - nowe spojrzenie / The City of Świecie: Awakening-Reactivation - a New Look; - Kolekcja. 20 lat Galerii Starmach / A Collection. Twenty Years of Starmach Gallery, National Museum, Kraków
  • 2010 - Sala Neoplastyczna: kompozycja otwarta / Neoplastic Room: Open Composition, Museum of Art, Łódź; - Das kleine Improvisation. Polnische Kunst heute, Stadtgalerie Kiel, Cologne, Germany; - To nic ważnego, to tylko sztuka / It isn't important, it's only art..., Anaid Gallery, Bucarest; - Minimal Differeces, White Box, New York; - Alfabet polski_1 / Polish Alphabet 1, BWA Tarnów
  • 2011 - Spektrum, Kunsthalle Wien; - Life: A User's Manual, Israel Museum, Jerusalem; - The Power of Fantasy, Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR), Brussels
  • 2013 - Korespondencje. Sztuka nowoczesna i uniwersalizm / Correspondences. Modern art and universalism, Muzeum of Art Łódź; Sen jest drugim życiem / Sleep is second life, railway station, BWA in Tarnów; Art Loop Festiwal, Sopot; Moc sztuki 2 / The power of art 2, BWA Gallery of Art, Olsztyn; To nic ważnego, to tylko sztuka... Wystawa prac z Kolekcji II / It Isn't Important, It's Only Art, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok; Eco DIY Upcycler Camp, Łasztownia, Szczecin; Art Boom Festiwal, Kraków; V O N H I E E E R A U S ?, Spiż7 Gallery, Gdańsk; re:.act.feminism #2 – a performing archive, IS Wyspa, Gdańsk; Kultura w Czasach Prezydencji / Culture in Times of Presidency, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Buildings and Remntants, Guimares, Portugal; Survival Kit, Riga, Latvia; re.act.feminism #2 – a performing archive: Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2014 - Narracje festival, Mędrzec i duch / The Sage and the Ghost, Gdańsk; Pozbawieni / Deprivation - The Rise of Eastern Culture, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok; Atlas Nowoczesności / Atlas of Modernity, Art Museum in Łódź; ArtBoom Festiwal, Oblicze Dnia / The face of the day. Social costs in post-1989 Poland, Nowa Huta, Kraków; Alternativa, Codzienność / Everydayness, Hala B50, Gdańsk; Parkowanie 8 / Parking 8, Oliwa, Gdańsk; Critical Juncture, Kochi Muziris Biennale, India; Close Stranger, Klaipeda Culture Communication Center, Klaipėda, Lithuania; Republic of Figures, Tranzit, Prague, Czech Republic; Utopian City, Survival Kit 6, Riga, Latvia
  • 2015 - Prawda piękno dobro. Z kolekcji Zachęty / Truth beauty goodness. From the Zachęta collection, Kamienica Hrabiego Raczyńskiego, Warsaw; Kolekcja Otwarta / Open Collection, The National Museum in Szczecin — The Museum of Contemporary Art, Szczecin; Zbiory Wspólne / Common Sets, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok; State of Life, National Art Museum, Beijing, China; Tücken, Altona Museum, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2016 - Kolekcje / Collections, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Pany Chłopy Chłopy Pany / Masters Peasants Peasants Masters, BWA Sokół, Nowy Sącz; Będzie lepiej i coraz lepiej? – Prezentacja Kolekcji II / It's going to be better and better? – Presentation of Collection II, Arsenał Gallery, Białystok; W poszukiwaniu cudownego / In search of the wonderful, Kozanów district, Wrocław; Znajomi znad morza / Friends from the seaside, Wrocław; Szalona Galeria / The Wild Gallery, mobile cultural center, Poland; Nowe ilustracje / New illustrations, Arsenał Elektrownia Gallery, Białystok; To czego nie ma / That which is not, GGM2, Gdańsk; País do passado/País do futuro, Atelier Espai, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.'s picture
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Julita Wójcik


Julita Wójcik, Bunker, promotional materials

Bunker, as the artist claims, is a metaphor of danger faced by the creators of modern art. And its viewers. The installation was placed in Gdańsk. Read more about: Bunker – Julita Wójcik

Julia Wójcik, "Peeling potatoes", 2001, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, photo: Jacek Niegoda

Julita Wójcik is an artist who often refers to the stereotype of so-called women's work - gardening, knitting, peeling potatoes... Read more about: Peeling Potatoes – Julita Wójcik

Julita Wójcik


Julita Wójcik


Julita Wójcik


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