Ołowska’s Lady Paradise
#photography & visual arts
no-image, Ołowska’s Lady Paradise
Paulina Ołowska's work give voices to marginalized groups - her newest exhibition looks with a critical eye at the ways the figures of women have been used to support consumerism.
Paulina Ołowska will have her first solo museum exhibition this fall, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The curator, Leotine Coelewij, describes the artist as “a unique voice in contemporary art”, a statement verified through the installation’s pioneering focus on figures of women in commodity culture.
Au Bonheur des Dames, or The Ladies’ Paradise / The Ladies’ Delight, is an installation that illuminates multiple angles by which women have been targeted and used in the rise of consumerism. The title was taken from Zola's novel set in a department store in 19th-century Paris. Retail innovation then dictated that stores expand to include textiles and various types of ready-made garments, all made readily available to delight shoppers - instigating an era of overwhelming consumers with choice.
Ołowska enters into the dialogue by examining “different aspects of the female consumer.” She critiques the construction of fashion as a spectacle and the saturation of visual advertisements with intoxicating images of glamour with a comparison to 1960s Eastern European consumerism. Her exhibition features pieces that combine collage, paintings, drawings and neon lights arranged in a theatrical atmosphere.
One of the first female graffiti artists in Europe, Mick la Rock, was invited by Ołowska to create the backdrop for the installation. Their collaboration enriches the exploration of feminism, consumerism and design. The title piece of the exhibition showcases Mick’s signature style from the 1980s that combines tags of Kazimir Malevich and Zola with references to other female artists and groups. Cooperation amongst artists is a method often sought by Ołowska and stands as a tenet of her artistic practise. In the past she has worked with Bonnie Camplin, Lucy McKenzie and Frances Stark.
Paulina Ołowska (born 1976) was raised in Gdańsk during a time of political, economic and cultural turmoil. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) from 1995-1996 and between 1997-2000 studied painting and graphic arts at the Fine Arts Academy in Gdańsk. Known for her ability to create interesting mélanges of East and West, this talent translates into work that focuses on giving a voice to those excluded - in particular, women of the socialist era in Poland. According to the curator of her exhibition, Ołowska has secured her place in contemporary art “by creating connections between fashion, art, and feminism, and proposing alternatives to the roles that visual art and design can play within our society.”
After being exhibited in Amstersdam, Au Bonheur des Dames will move to the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw in early 2014.
Paulina Ołowska: Au Bonheur des Dames
21 Sep 2013 - 27 Jan 2014
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
1071 DJ Amsterdam
See more on Exhibition Website
Sources: press material, own material, Stedelijk Museum, author: SMG 25/09/2013