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Ilona Szwarc in Warsaw

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Leica Gallery Warsaw presents polish photographer Ilona Szwarc, the artist's newest photographic series titled I am a Woman and I Feast on Memory. From October 29, up until December 11, 2016.

At the core of the work there is Ilona Szwarc herself: as an immigrant, as a woman, as an artist. Each part of the triptych, consisting of sequential portraits, reminisces stage makeup instructional photographs.

By employing look-alikes, women who share her general appearance, Ilona Szwarc, World Press Photo winner and most recently selected as Foam Talent 2016, is placing herself at once as the subject and the object in the photographs. She reaches for the language of performance art, staging actions and reenacting them for the camera while at the same beholding the gaze.

In this step by step process she is manipulating her own image through a proxy: her American doppelganger, an actress from Boston. These carefully staged photographs confuse the relationship between a portrait and a self-portrait. Through cinematic closeups of her painting and drawing on the model’s face, she first creates an uncanny portrait of an aged woman, then through abstract and colorful mark making she transforms her into a large woman. The series culminates with an androgynous, grotesque, saintly mask, a contemporary Vera Icon of her doppelganger.

Ilona Szwarc (born in Warsaw, Poland 1984) received an MFA in Photography from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. and a BFA from School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

Her work explores ways in which female identity is constructed in current cultural context, as well as process of socialization of girls and women. Notions of becoming, and concept of the ideal self are at the core of her investigation. Her projects “Rodeo Girls” and “American Girls” have received worldwide recognition – the latter one was awarded World Press Photo in 2013.

Ilona Szwarc used a Leica S System camera to photograph the pictures taken for this project.

More information at: Leica Gallery Warsaw

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