Online Viewing Room
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Nadia Markiewicz, ‘Blue Valley’
November 1 - December 15, 2021
STO LAT is pleased to present Blue Valley, an exhibition of three new videos by Nadia Markiewicz (b.1992, Warsaw, Poland). These new works, and Markiewicz’s practice generally, address the vocabulary of time, entertainment and the disabled body.
On view in our online viewing room are three videos assuming the syntax of children’s television: permanently blue skies, instructional acrobatics, and plastic props. The artist appears, performing as a clock, while in another screen, a set of dice continuously roll and re-roll. In a third screen, a prosthetic arm sits still, dressed with a plastic wrist watch, the tiny hands of the clock acting as the only signal that time is moving.
Markiewicz’s process is personal and research driven. Born missing an upper left limb, the artist only began to identify as a disabled person at the age of twenty-six due to her ability to, as she describes, “pass as able-bodied...with the right clothes, choreography and prosthesis.” Her experiences of ableism, and of performing in order to pass as able bodied, often inform her subjects. The work in Blue Valley was catalyzed by the public outcry in 2009 following the BBC’s decision to cast Cerrie Burnell, who was born with her right arm ending slightly below the elbow, as a children’s television presenter. When she appeared without a prosthetic limb on air, parents across Britain complained that her appearance would frighten their children. Burnell would go on to work with BBC for nearly a decade with the support of multiple disability groups, however the controversy illustrates an irony that Markiewicz zeros in on. At some point, the artist writes, disability “will affect most of us, either temporarily or in old age. However, it is an aspect of humanity that we deny from our imaginarium. Instead, we value efficiency, independence, strength, health and beauty—according to very precise standards.”
The fear of the other, known to the artist from her own childhood, registers the extraordinary body as an uncanny other. This role was codified by early psychology and reinforced by modern cultural production. Using a Cartesian graph, Freudian psychology even classified missing limbs and prosthetics as maximally uncanny—at the bottom of the graph’s “uncanny valley.” In the United States, as recently as the 1970s, “ugly laws” outlawed the public appearance of disabled bodies. Consequently, “freak shows” proliferated, exploiting biological rarities as a spectacle, seen only with the viewer’s consent. Markiewicz’s work critiques how unspoken representational rules—what body is allowed to appear where and how—continue to control perception and identity.
Nadia Markiewicz (b.1992, Warsaw, PL) received her MFA from Academy of Fine Arts Warsaw in 2020 and has exhibited and performed widely, including at the Zachęta National Gallery and the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. She is the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at the Municipal Gallery Arsenal in Poznań, Poland and her work is permanently on view in the digital works collection of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Poland. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.
To inquire about an artwork, please call +001 646 241 3944 or email Peter Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org.