Jaśmina Wójcik is a visual artist and social activist who creates videos, paintings, projects in public spaces, and interactive installations. She was born in 1983.
A visual artist, social activist and creator of videos, paintings, projects in public spaces and interactive installations.
In 2003 she graduated from the National High School of Fine Arts in Nałęczów. In the years 2003-2008 she studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where she obtained a diploma with honours at Professor Stanisław Wieczorek’s Multimedia Artistic Creation Studio and Professor Grzegorz Kowalski’s Audiovisual Space Studio (appendix). In 2008 she started to work as an assistant in the former studio, whereas in 2011 defended a PhD at her alma mater. She is currently a student at Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies (Art / Public Space / Democracies) at University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.
She has won many awards and merits for her artistic activity, including first prize at the Samsung Art Master Competition in 2007 for Improvisation and the Grand Prix at a contest organized by Kino Polska and Onet called Film in a Minute in 2007. Wójcik was a Ministry of Culture and National Heritage scholar in 2007 and 2013. In 2015 she was a laureate of Warsaw Cultural Educational Grand Prix Award for a project at the site of the former Ursus Agro-Mechanical Industry (Industries. Ursus 2014) and a laureate of the 5th Film Award (from the Polish Film Institute, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, and Wajda School) for Ursus Factory Symphony. She lives and works in Warsaw.
Wójcik creates art that is ideologically involved: in her work she underlines the problems of those who are marginalised and touches upon important social issues. Her works are critical and often adopt a form of active collaboration within public affairs. The artist’s projects are located on the border between social activism and creative work with local communities: some of them have the form of multistage processes open for the participation of the environments they address.
Many of Wójcik’s works have a strong ethical layer, and raise questions about social sensitivity and responsibility for the lives of those who need help. Her early video creations, Improvisation (2005-2007, Samsung Art Master Award) and Mastectomy (2007), talk about issues of universal importance, like age and illness, shown from the perspective of people chosen by the artist. The first realisation has the form of a film triptych: its protagonists are two old sisters living in Kazimierz Dolny. The artist recorded their everyday life, showing the advancing process of growing old and its increasing loneliness. Mastectomy is also about old women, but this time we hear stories of traumatic fights with breast cancer. In 2009 Wójcik created Samsara, another video triptych based on an authentic story. The protagonist is a lonely woman and the victim of persistent, morbid delusions that turns her life into a nightmare. Her works are not only distinguished by their high artistic value but also as touching testimony about the fragility of human existence.
In 2011 Wójcik created a public installation in Kazimierz Dolny that shows the history of the place to its citizens and tourists. The acoustic walk with the use of the prepared audio guides was an occasion to hear stories about the past, Jewish citizens of the city; she also brought a private dimension to the relation with anonymous space and retrieved the memory about the forgotten past. During the walk we also see Wójcik’s drawings (inspired by Hanna Krall’s reportages) set on buildings that once belonged to the Jewish community.
Hiding People Among People Without Contact with Nature Leads to Perversion (2012, Miejsce Projektów Zachęta) is a work in the style of space-drawing installations in which the artist was interested in the problem of greenery in the city space, the meaning of ecosystems, including traditional allotments and the way those natural spaces may be used by ordinary citizens.
The walk-form installation was used again in 2013 in Zielona Góra in Tysiąclecia Park (Park Memory) and in the area of the Ursus former Agro-Mechanical Industry (Acoustic Walk Around the Former Tractor Industry URSUS). In Ursus the artist recorded interviews with former workers. We can hear them while walking through the moving speakers. For Wójcik, this work was a starting point for all the future projects connected with the inactive factory, its history, people who created it but also for active work in favour of local community. In June 2014 Wójcik, together with Igor Stokfiszewski, launched a project called Industries: Ursus 2014 for which the artist created The Spoken Diary and Ursus: A Film Essay. The project was meant to introduce people living around the place (and other Warsaw citizens) with its history with the aim of showing its potential and present it as a valuable cultural, architectural, and industrial space.
In 2015 Jaśmina Wójcik was honoured with a Film Award for Ursus Factory Symphony in Wajda Studio. It is to be a film in the format of a documentary about her artistic research on former factories and people who worked in the industry producing tractors.
Author: Ewa Gorządek, November 2016, translated by AW, November 2016