From the series: 'Self-Identification', 1980/1989
gelatin-silver print, vintage print on baryta paper, 40 x 50 cm (sheet)
signed and dated with pencil lower right: 'Ewa Partum 1980/89'
another copy of the object in the collection: The Zacheta Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Wroclaw; "Subjects of Gender and Desire" Photographic Collection of Joanna and Krzysztof Madelski
Exhibited- The Incarnated. Exhibition of works from The Zacheta Lower Silesian Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, 2018
- Self-Identyfication. Photographs from the collection of Joanna and Krzysztof Madelski, Fort Institute of Photography, Warsaw, 2017
- Tree women. Maria Pininska-Beres, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, Ewa Partum, Zacheta - National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, 2011
- Self-Identyfication, Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture "Krolikarnia", Warsaw, 2006
- Self-Identyfication, Mala Galeria ZPAF, Warsaw, 1980
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Note(...) a model created by tradition as a certain stereotype existing in the mind of the public - the role model of a woman - a product of patriarchal culture, operating in the form of social norms, degrades her while keeping up the appearances of respect for her. The events recorded as my own intervention do not exhaust the problem, but formulate it, only.'
The series of photomontages by Ewa Partum entitled 'Self-identification' (1980-2010) remains an important voice in the discussion on women's rights - not only in PRL (Polish People's Republic), but in all countries behind the Iron Curtain - which has been going on even today. In the artist's work, art historians recognised a reference to the traditions of avant-garde photomontage, in which the form was mainly an important means for illustrating a significant political message.
Naked images of the artist were pasted into the urban scenery and different situations happening in various locations around Warsaw. The presented photograph, in which the artist confronted a policewoman directing traffic, remains the most popular of the series. The artist did not make any special gestures in any of the photos. She denuded her attractive body, whose sexual aspect was additionally enhanced by the decision to wear only stiletto shoes, challenging both the place of a woman in the society and on the artistic scene.
Her nudity and sensualism are in strong contrast with the fully dressed policewoman whose uniform and accessories hide all features stereotypically identified with femininity. In this context, womanhood emerges as vulnerability and weakness, whereas power and force are specifically male. However, the two women, who share certain visual similarity, look at each other as in the mirror, showing that the feminine element contains charm and allure, but also bravery, seriousness and inflexibility. The strong message coming from the photo reflected the goal of the artist, aimed at overcoming socially rooted schemes and patriarchal divisions, which imposed roles in the society on both genders.