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London: Ewa Axelrad
March 9, 2018 - April 15, 2018
The RYDER is pleased to present the first London solo exhibition of Polish artist Ewa Axelrad. Through her interdisciplinary practice and extensive research, Axelrad confronts the viewer with a body of work that questions the systems and infrastructures that restrict and regulate the individual in the name of social order.
The legacy of the previous political system in the artist’s homeland as well as recollections of racial profiling cases in recent riots in Baltimore and Ferguson inform Axelrad’s series Minimum, Necessary, Objectively Reasonable. Named after the justification given in the use of excessive force by the police, this body of work aims to explore the possibility of a guardian turning into an abuser/oppressor. From this point of departure, Axelrad extends the question onto a health-care system and in particular onto a carer-patient relationship gone wrong. Disciplinary society, micro-power, and riot tourism are concepts shrewdly addressed through her practice – always presenting, never proclaiming.
The body is the field of control and as such anatomical references are continuously present in the artist’s work. Anomalia is a sculpture of a puffer jacket standing assertively on the floor in a position that could be both considered as defensive and aggressive. Visually seductive, it stands for the victim as well as for the active agent of revolt, leaning in to defend and claim deviant behaviour. Subordination is made implicit in the height of the sculpture, a body with no legs that forces us to look down on it. In the background, the word satis resonates in the room, a hidden speaker releasing the word at regular intervals like a heavy drop falling from a tap. Satis – the Latin word for “enough” or “sufficient” – is the etymological origin of a word we use today: “satisfaction”. Satis in this context leads one to consider a place of pleasure in the act of crossing a line but also in obedience and submission itself.
Ewa Axelrad (b.1984 in Poland) studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań before moving to London to continue at the Royal College of Art. Her work was featured in many exhibitions, among the recent ones are ‘Labour Relations’ at Wrocław Contemporary Museum, ‘As You Can See. Polish Art Today’ at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and ‘The Dynamics of Decline’ at BWA Warszawa. Her upcoming solo shows in 2017 include Wrocław Contemporary Museum, Wrocław and Copperfield, London. She is a recipient of ‘Młoda Polska’ scholarschip for Polish artists under 35. Lives and works in London and Gliwice.