Joanna Piotrowska & Formafantasma, Sub Rosa

Friday Dispatch – 4 November 2022

Joanna Piotrowska & Formafantasma, Sub Rosa
Phillida Reid, Tottenham Courtroom Street


8 October – 16 December 2022


‘When the artist Joanna Piotrowska was accused of being a spy, she targeted her lens on roses’ was the headline of an article in Frieze journal in 2018. Certainly, the story of Sub Rosa, a collaborative site-specific mission by Polish photographer Joanna Piotrowska and design duo Formafantasma started to unfold in 2015.


Again then, Piotrowska travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There, the artist was accused of spying and subjected to interrogations by the native navy police. When she was launched, she was advised to proceed taking images. Disturbed by the expertise of the interrogations and conscious that subsequently she was carefully noticed, the artist who’s well-known for analyzing the facility buildings encoded inside area, determined to ‘censor herself ‘and focus her consideration on what gave the impression to be the one ‘secure’ or ‘impartial’ topic in a spot of navy battle: roses all over the place on the streets of Agdam, Armenia, town the place the interrogation and accusations had taken place.


Regardless of this traumatic occasion, Piotrowska up till at this time, continued to {photograph} roses she encounters throughout completely different areas and contexts as a topic in her work.


For Sub Rosa, she invited the design duo Formafantasma to collaborate on translating her advanced expertise from 2015 into artwork objects that discover energy dynamics in addition to notions of fragility and violence. Formafantasma, based in 2009, is a research-based design studio based mostly in Amsterdam, investigating the ecological, historic, political, and social forces shaping the self-discipline of design at this time. The place to begin for the collaborative mission was her reminiscence of the structure of the interrogation room in Nagorno-Karabakh with its ambiguous, characterless, and oppressive atmosphere.


In Phillida Reid’s new gallery area, black and white prints of fragile and delicate roses are concurrently supported and held down by stainless-steel buildings, which just about forcefully appear to lock them in place. They’re pierced by bolts and pinned towards the wall – virtually like suspects violently caught by the police.


‘A turning level was after we appeared into how interrogation rooms are designed,’ clarify Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, who undertook prolonged analysis on incarceration structure. Within the exhibition they recontextualised the supplies generally utilized in these settings, notably stainless-steel, utilizing it within the exhibition as, what the designers describe as ‘anti body’ framing units for Piotrowska’s comparatively delicate silver gelatine prints of roses.


Because of the presentation, Piotrowska’s flowers really feel imprisoned. The silver metal buildings appear to violate the photographs by piercing obstructing or holding them captive. Total, the collaboration between Piotrowska and Formafantasma powerfully brings to life the deprivation of privateness and self-censorship Piotrowska skilled in Nagorno-Karabakh.


For me, the images, formal components, and supplies employed by the artist and designers make evident how typically objects, supplies, and the architectural components utilized in regulation enforcement at border management, play a dominant half in creating violence. Sub Rosa transforms Piotrowska’s and Formafantasma’s ethereal and refined sculptural objects – impressed by interrogation-room structure – into delicate however provocative and highly effective objects of resistance, undermining present hierarchies and energy buildings.


Christine Takengny
Senior Curator


10 – 16 Grape Street, WC2H 8DY
Opening Instances: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 – 6pm
Exhibition open till 16 December 2022