Agnieszka Sosnowska – Nowell, Massachusetts (1991)

If you follow this blog for the artier stuff, then you are probably already familiar with Lens Culture.

They do some rad stuff: serving as the impetus for posts featuring the work of Anna Grzelewska and Kumi Oguro.

Honestly, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by their presentation of Sosnowska. By focusing solely on her work’s ‘coming to terms’ with her families immigration to Iceland, there’s this sort of O Pioneers! vibe to it that registers as coy, sentimental and over-precious.

While I was in Iceland, the boastfully named Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur, or Reykjavík Museum of Photography, had a show up called Traces of Life featuring a smattering of Sosnowska’s work.

I can’t speak to the quality of curation of the show–it seemed to lack an overarching cohesion and although explicitly preoccupied with self-portraiture, a great deal of the work was abstract in a way that beggars the question: how is this self-portraiture? (Not that most of the work on display offered much guidance on how to address such questions.)

Still, I have to qualify it as a success because I walked away with a respect for Sosnowska, I would have otherwise missed. Part of it was realizing that her work is fundamentally rooted in self-portraiture. Second, nothing available online does her images justice. She makes rich, contrasty, 3D baryta prints that are small, make stubborn demands for intimate observation and seethe with the ambiguous intention of a stumbled upon coiled serpent.

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