bio

Joanna Rajkowska (born 1968) is an artist based in London and Nowogród, Poland.
 

A versatile artist, Rajkowska is best known for her work in public space, where she uses real-life situations, energies and materials to construct sites, installations and ephemeral actions. She utilises elements as diverse as plants, found objects, buildings, water, smoke and mirrors. Outcomes range from architectural projects, geological fantasies and excavation sites to underwater sculptures. Both alongside and separately, she produces films, photographs and models.
 

Her work engages critically with the legacy, politics and aesthetics of Land art and employs unfamiliarity as a political tool. De-familiarizing, de-humanizing and relating are her operating devices. She is interested in the limitations of and the limiting of human activities, multiplicity of agencies and human and non-human relations.
 

Most of her works happen, live and age in public space. Thus, her practice embraces all the entities involved as well as their relations, including organic and inorganic beings. The artist understands her projects like organisms, as she focuses on matter in its molecular or cellular dimension, its life cycle, growth and ageing. With a strong conviction that we, as humans, have failed to produce a viable, sustainable culture, she often confronts historical and sociopolitical contexts with the lives of species other than human. Tinted with disappointment, her work visualizes and questions the western notion of the nature-culture divide. A quiet submission to the forces of nature and (vital) decay became part of her practice.
 

As a woman and a mother, she uses her own body, a biological machine and a tool that enable her to sense and understand the conditions set for her work. Disease, weakness and malfunction of the human body is very often in the backdrop of her work, providing a fertile ground of potentiality rather than failure. Confronted with eye cancer in her immediate family, she has dedicated years of work to the phenomena of seeing and photosensitivity. Thus, the very corporeal and intimate crossed over the boundary between the private and the public.
 

Her public projects include commissions by CCA Zamek Ujazdowski (2007, Oxygenator, Poland), Trafo Gallery (2008, Airways, Hungary), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2009, Ravine, Poland), The Showroom (2010, Chariot, UK), British Council (2010, Benjamin in Konya, Turkey), 7th Berlin Biennale (2012, Born in Berlin, Germany), Royal Society of Arts, Citizen Power Peterborough programme’s Arts and Social Change, Arts Council England (2012, The Peterborough Child, UK), Frieze Projects 2012 (2012, Forcing a Miracle, UK), Institute for Contemporary Ideas and Art (2014, Carpet, Sweden) and European Capital of Culture Wrocław (2016, Trafostation, Poland).
 

As well as commissions, she has realized a number of partisan public projects, most notably Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue in Warsaw (2002) which shaped the unique set of methods Rajkowska employs. The project was to become a major city landmark and has acted as a base for numerous political actions ranging from nurses' protests to expression of solidarity with Ukraine during its invasion.
 

Her artwork has been presented in the UK, Germany, Poland, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Sweden, USA, Bulgaria, Palestine, India, Japan, Turkey and Kenya among others.