Weronika Gęsicka

A Disconcerting Idyll

It looks like a 1950s advertisement for swimwear: three athletic men can be seen, standing on a beach against clear blue skies, on their shoulders three attractive young women wearing bathing suits. The girls are gazing into the distance with smiles on their faces. On closer inspection, however, something seems amiss: the three men have no heads, and the women are perched directly on top of their necks. This detail suddenly makes the photograph look surreal, incongruous; the reality in the picture seems to have shifted.

For her series "Traces", Polish artist Weronika Gęsicka searched through various online image databases for photographs from the 1940s to the 1960s that in her eyes reflect the American way of life at that time. Many of these scenes are full of clichés, showing happy-looking people in an apparently perfect world. The exact origin of the pictures is not verifiable. As a result, they are a mixture of advertisements and private photos. Gęsicka manipulates the idyllic scenes in a playful way by digitally distorting the images. In doing so, she does not follow a strict pattern, but instead decides intuitively what detail she finds fascinating and will edit. In this way, the rather stereotypical scenes of suburban American life are transformed into a humorous, but also uncomfortable reality. Covered faces, deformed bodies and peculiar superimpositions create a distorted version of the American dream. Gęsicka's photos are characterized by a discomforting, almost oppressive mood that sometimes only reveals itself at second glance: young men at a tea dance, whose heads are submerged in the cleavages of their oversized female partners, family members hidden behind a curtain at the dinner table, or a father coming home from work, separated by a trench from his children, who are running towards him.

In "Traces", Weronika Gęsicka questions how we perceive images. In doing so, she makes us aware that even the medium of photography, which allegedly reflects reality, is not objective. Each photograph merely satisfies a perception of what is happening and, in the photographer's eye, remains a subjective likeness. By modifying the images, she is playing with the observer, who is initially confident that he can quickly classify and identify the scene – until he notices that nothing in these pictures is as it seems at first glance.

Biographical information

1984

born in Włocławek, Poland

2003–2009

studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and at the Academy of Photography in Warsaw, Poland

2017

announced as a Foam Talent winner

lives in Choceń, Poland