The Body_Archive: A Warm-up

Exhibition opening: November 10, 2021, 7 p.m. 19:00 The Body_Archive: A Warm-up.

The photography archive of the Archeology of Photography Foundation includes several representations of a body, mostly a female body – from documentary photographs, images from the realm of eroticism and pornography, to works that incorporate a female body in the artistic search and practice from the area of abstract photography or include it in their conceptual framework. Bodies of the Other – and thus those understood as strange, unfamiliar or underprivileged – are also present in travel photographs, documentary series from trips to the outskirts and suburbs, as well as in images of so avidly photographed children and animals. The spectrum of body representations also includes numerous images of dolls, sculptures, dummies, skeletons, and toys.

In traditional photographic techniques, the body is strongly present, although the author and his/her body are not essential to the making of the image. The photographic gesture – in the past and today – differs depending on whether the photographer is looking through a viewfinder, a waist-level finder, at a focusing screen of a large-format camera, a digital camera or a phone display. The body in the studio, in the darkroom, and at a computer. Taking various positions. Climbing streetlamps and crawling in the grass, freezing to take a sharp photo. And other times, running, at risk, photographing demonstrations, conflict zones. The body, at which the author at times directs his/her camera, as something (sometimes very seemingly) familiar and accessible, which he/she experiments with in his/her utopian pursuit of truth and honesty or takes up a game. He/she may also (inevitably?) fall into narcissistic traps. It happens that this very body uses other bodies, casting them in various roles, involves them in a game and at the same time, subjects itself to their influence and actions.

Representations and projections of the body (human and animal) are one of the most important photography subjects. They originate in the historical genres of painting, such as the portrait, the nude, and the allegorical composition. They function in scientific, documentary and post-mortem, funeral photography.

The photographic gesture is a relationship between two (and more) bodies placed in a certain position, bodies with different identities and abilities, at certain stages of life, entangled in numerous aspects of culture, hierarchy of dominance and violence, playing different games. These relationships need to and should be (constantly/always/anew) subjected to critical analysis.

How important is the presence of images depicting the body in the archive, which in fact is often compared to the body (archive as a body, body as an archive)? How to deal with the issue of animal bodies that give – very literally – a physical dimension to collections of photographs, that is collections which contain works created using technologies based on animal gelatin (which has been extensively studied and written about by Dorota Łagodzka)?

Can a photographic archive – as a rule, institutionalized, conservative and patriarchal – defy and break out of the hierarchy of dominance and violence, and even get incorporated in the processes of liberation and emancipation? Is the search for the way out possible at all without the clear-cut rejection of images of the body? Would this rejection bring about a vital change? How important is archival description in this process? What kind of bodies and gestures make it possible for the archive to last and be maintained today? Can the archive/photography be accessible to all bodies?

The exhibition constitutes a kind of mind map – a set of questions that was created based on photographs by authors and artists associated with the Archeology of Photography Foundation. It is the starting point for a long-term project that combines research, exhibition, and education. In addition to photographs from the archive of the Archeology of Photography Foundation, the exhibition also features contemporary works. The series of typhlographics (tactile images and objects) based on photographs by Zbigniew Dłubak and Zofia Chomętowska, created in collaboration with the Wielozmysły Foundation and artists Julia Basista and Oliwia Laskowska, will be used while presenting the exhibition to visitors with visual impairments. The work by Karolina Gembara from the series Bow: Exercises in Hospitality, displayed in the gallery’s window, comes from a performative and photographic project carried out with the participation of people with migration experience. In the series, bodies exercise and take on new roles in front of the camera, they “commune” with other, strange bodies that they do not encounter on a daily basis. The work is also presented as part of the action Hospitality March.

Authors of the presented photographs: Janusz Bąkowski, Zofia Chomętowska, Maria Chrząszczowa, Zbigniew Dłubak, Andrzej Georgiew, Karolina Gembara, Jan Jastrzębski, Anna Musiałówna, Marek Piasecki, Tadeusz Sumiński, Antoni Zdebiak, Wojciech Zamecznik

Curator: Marta Przybyło
Collaboration: Jan Anderman, Anna Hornik, Ewa Jadacka, Kamila Kobus, Kate Smuraga
Digitization: Jan Anderman, Kate Smuraga
Conseravtion and maintanance: Monika Supruniuk
Work in the gallery display window: Karolina Gembara
Pre-press: Karol Bagiński (FOTO-GRAFIKA)
Text editing and proofreading: Julia Odnous-Pawlińska
Translation: Aleksandra Szymczyk
PR: Maja Sztenke (Steinke Communications)
Exhibition installation: Mateusz Wierzbicki (Willow Service)
Special thanks to Karolina Gembara, Magda Georgiew, Dorota Jarecka, Dorota Łagodzka, Karolina Puchała-Rojek, Juliusz Zamecznik, Grażyna Zdebiak

Program of making the exhibition accessible for people with visual impairment: Natalia Szemis, Monika Matusiak, Adriana Lau (Wielozmysły Foundation), Julia Basista – the author of typhlographics, and Oliwia Laskowska, the author of the sculpture.

The Body_Archive: A Warm-up
Exhibition opening: November 10, 2021, 7 p.m. 19.00
The exhibition will run from November 13, 2021 to January 30, 2022.
Opening hours:
Tue.: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wed., Thu., Sat., Sun.: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Archeology of Photography Foundation
20 Chłodna St., Warsaw


The project co-financed by the City of Warsaw.

The exhibition co-financed by the Culture Promotion Fund of The Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport.

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