Joanna Piotrowska, Sub Rosa, 2022 / Collaboration with FormaFantasma
Joanna Piotrowska & FormaFantasma / Sub Rosa
Oct 8 – Dec 16, 2022
Phillida Reid
London, UK

We are honored to present Sub Rosa, an exhibition by Joanna Piotrowska and design studio Formafantasma. Developed over an extended period – beginning with a residency at ARCH, Athens, where the show’s first iteration runs concurrently until December 23, 2022 – the resultant works fuse photographic prints with a series of stainless steel ‘anti-frame’ framing devices, created in site-specific response to the gallery spaces.

Comprised of elements, materials and forms found in or referring to interrogation rooms (stainless steel, a barrier, a two-way mirror, a border) the conception of the sculptural objects derives from conversations between Piotrowska and Formafantasma following a 2015 incident in which Piotrowska found herself accused of spying and questioned by local military police in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “After the interrogations”, she recalls, “I was released and told I should continue taking photographs. Disturbed by the experiences and knowing my every move was followed, I decided to censor myself and focus my attention on what, it seemed to me, was the only safe subject in a place of military conflict – the omnipresent roses.”

Following this experience, Piotrowska continued to photograph roses, an enduring presence across shifting contexts and locations. Documenting a subject which, on its surface, might profess to sidestep controversy or place the photographer in a position of assumed neutrality, the images contain a germ of resistance or concealed power which is gestured to in the project’s title, Sub Rosa (a Latin phrase which translates as ‘under the rose’), signalling secrecy or clandestine activity.

Phillida Reid
London, UK

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