Elżbieta Jabłońska

b. 1970, Olsztyn

Painter, photographer, creator of installations. She is a graduate of the Fine Arts Faculty at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. A representative of the post-feminist and critical art movement, she refers to her own oeuvre as “turning anger into laughter”. Her works usually explore the status of contemporary women, their roles, and common stereotypes. Winner of the Views 2009 Deutsche Bank Foundation Award. She lives and works in Bydgoszcz.

Household Games

from Supermother series, 2003, c-print, 130 × 264 cm

The photograph showing Elżbieta Jabłońska dressed as Superman, sitting in the kitchen with her son, was displayed in billboard form in over a dozen Polish cities as part of the AMS Outdoor Gallery, a campaign coinciding with the artist’s exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, which showed other photographs from the Supermother series. The project shows the artist posing with her son Antoś in comic book superhero costume. Household Games may be interpreted at assorted levels. Iconographically, the artist references the Madonna and Child image, her costume alluding to contemporary popular culture. The co-existence of both motives within a single character suggests something of a paradox. Superheroes are part of a patriarchal order, while the biblical Madonna comprises an interesting contradiction: she is both fragile (a feature traditionally attributed to women) and courageous (a stereotypically male attribute). Jabłońska’s work is an ironic and humorous commentary on women’s role in contemporary society. The Supermother and Polish Mother (Polish stereotype of a mother sacrificing herself entirely to the wellbeing of her children) remain unattainable ideals, performing true miracles in their daily lives in semblance of pop cultural heroes: raising children, running the household, and remaining professionally active.

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