Anna Maria Łuczak is an interdisciplinary artist who creates video installations and performances. In her works, Łuczak oscillates between mocking post-internet aesthetics and issues related to identity, nostalgia, and collective memory.
Anna Maria Łuczak lives and works in Rotterdam, where she graduated from the Piet Zwart Institute. She also studied at the Łódź Academy of Fine Arts and Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. In 2017-2018, she was a scholarship holder of the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht.
In her works, she uses various means of artistic expression, such as installation, sculpture, video and performance. At the centre of many of Anna Maria Łuczak’s projects is the theme of the personal interpretation of historical events, as well as philosophical and political aspects of collective memory in the context of power structures or political myths. In her works, the artist also raises issues related to individual memory, understood as a process of objectifying historical testimonies and traces.
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One of the attempts to tackle this subject matter was the Trust Speakers installation, consisting of video, sculptures and ready-made objects, shown in 2015 at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art. The project is connected with the artist’s experience of working on the documentary film Pools Voor Beginners, which deals with Poles living in the Stella Maris workers’ hostel in Steenbergen, Netherlands. The documentary was produced for a local TV station and was supposed to present the situation of Polish women and men in the labour market in the Netherlands.
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Anna Maria Łuczak, "Trust Speakers", 2015, Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, photo: courtesy of the artist
During her work on Pools Voor Beginners, Anna Maria Łuczak translated interviews with Polish seasonal workers from Steenbergen. However, much of the more than 60 hours of audio material was not used in the final cut. These interviews from the film, rejected during the editing process, became a pretext for working on Trust Speakers. The artist combined them with archived and new footage. In this project, interviews with representatives of culture, scientists, directors and philosophers were mixed with fragments of feature films and amateur recordings to create a non-linear narrative.
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I’m interested in what gets lost in translation, what gets lost in the process of documentation. Andrzej Leder claims that we only remember what already somehow fits our idea about the past. On the other hand, the interview, as the form of expression which is the most spontaneous, direct and potentially subject to minimum intervention, is the subject of many of my works. A significant portion of the material, collected by us during the course of working on the film, was rejected during the editing process. It was interesting for me to see what material was rejected and what it says about the phenomenon of emigration, and what the asked questions say about the interviewer.
Interviews with seasonal workers were the starting point for this installation. The interviews – processed and combined with amateur recordings and ready-made cultural texts – become a pretext for the question of ‘what is memory?’ and how the meanings of images change depending on the context or even the order of presentation. The answer to this question can be generalised to issues such as processing information about experiences. In this case films, interviews and photographs allow you to remember more accurately but also discover new meanings, as well as create common narratives.
Anna Maria Łuczak’s works also have a post-internet theme. In 2016, at the Warsaw-based gallery lokal_30, she presented her work Magic Mud Mask. In the gallery, the artist presented video art in which she puts on a clay mask while the screen placed next to the ongoing cosmetic treatment from time to time displays slogans encouraging political activity. Bathroom towels were placed adjacent to the screen, with testimonies of the protests of the Turkish community against Erdoğan’s rule printed on them. White, fluffy towels with pink inscriptions were a perfect addition to the aesthetics of the beauty vlogs. Anna Maria Łuczak comments on her work as follows:
In my new installation, I draw on the aesthetics of the cosmetic tutorials available on YouTube to show the individual in the broader context of current social and historical events.
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By using images circulating on the Internet in her video works, Anna Maria Łuczak transfers them from their basic cultural background and then recontextualises them in the face of phenomena such as activism. In the case of this installation, the online world became a tool for creating an artistic narrative and an attempt to diagnose the political situation when the physical and virtual plane of activism began to permeate.
Since September 2018, together with Angelica Falkeling, she has been running the Emotional Channel lifestyle project in which she discusses various dimensions of the precariat and unequal working conditions. The idea behind Emotional Channel is to make works available for free, through social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, and to create an impression of ‘authenticity and naturalness’ similar to the techniques used in influencer marketing. Fragments of documents, personal anecdotes, podcasts, porcelain and clothes promoted by Emotional Channel also build a specific narrative based on internet personas created by the artists. The project is also accompanied by performances, such as a poetry reading staged in Albert Heijn, a chain of Dutch supermarkets.
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In Emotional Channel, Anna Maria Łuczak focuses on the issues related to economy and art, and first of all on the economic situation of creators of culture. Undoubtedly, artists are one of the lowest-earning social groups in relation to their education or cultural capital. The project oscillates around questions about the possibility of stabilisation in the artist’s work and strategies of dealing with precarity. Here, the term precariat is understood as a social category or class whose lack of life stability or social security results from the nature of the performed work.
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anna maria łuczak
The artist, together with Erika Roux, Marta Hryniuk, Nick Thomas and Sophie Bates, is also the co-founder of the WET cooperative in Rotterdam, which produces and distributes artistic films and videos. WET is also a curatorial and distribution platform, its members organise exhibitions, workshops and screenings, offering a new perspective on the medium of film.
Anna Maria Łuczak has taken part in many group and individual exhibitions, among others: Kunstvlai, Amsterdam (2012), BWA Zielona Góra (2014), AIR Jakobstad (2014), CSW Warszawa (2015), Swimming Pool, Sofia (2015) Lokal_30 (2016), BWA Lublin (2017), W139, Amsterdam (2017), Art Reception Point, Łódź (2017), Triennial, Orońsko (2017), Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm (2018), Rib Rotterdam (2018), Tent, Rotterdam (2019).
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