Joanna Piotrowska & Formafantasma at ARCH / Athens

Joanna Piotrowska & Formafantasma / Sub Rosa

June 17th–December 22nd, 2022

ARCH, 5 Gkoura street 10558, Athens GR 

Photography: Paris Tavitian


ARCH is pleased to announce Sub Rosa, an exhibition by artist Joanna Piotrowska and design studio Formafantasma, on view June 17th – December 22nd, 2022.

Ιn 2015, I travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After a few days of exploring and photographing I made my way to Agdam and later Stepanakert, where I was accused of spying and subjected to interrogations by local military police. After the interrogations, I was released and told I should continue taking photographs. Disturbed by the experiences of interrogations and knowing my every move was followed, I decided to censor myself and focus my attention on what, it seemed to me, was the only safe subject in a place of military conflict – the omnipresent roses. -JP

For many years following this incident, Piotrowska kept returning to photographing roses and reflecting on them in the context of her time in Nagorno-Karabakh. Inspired by the ambiguous qualities of the interrogation room as a starting point, she invited Formafantasma to collaborate on translating this multilayered experience into objects.

The result of the collaboration is a series of “anti-frame” framing devices that contain Piotrowska’s images of roses. These stainless steel devices, made of elements, materials and forms found in interrogation rooms, impose a threatening tension upon the prints, and replicate the power dynamics inherent in her story.

Joanna Piotrowska (b. 1985) lives and works between London and Warsaw. She studied Photography at the Royal College of Art in London and Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Her photographic practice focuses on familial structures and their relationship to the wider systems – including politics, economics, social, and cultural life. She explores the past and the present, showing all the inequalities of power and psychological drama, and translating the gestures and everyday intimate behaviours into new scenarios – giving them an almost caricature-like quality.

Her work has been exhibited at renowned institutions including BNKR, Munich, Germany (2021), Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, Rome, Italy (2020), 10th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany (2018), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2018), MoMA, New York, USA (2018), and Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2014), amongst many others. She has held a solo exhibition at Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2022), Museum Insel Hombroich, Neuss, Germany (2021), Zachęta National Gallery, Warsaw, Poland (2020), Tate Britain, London, UK (2019), and at Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2019). Her work has been acquired by Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, by MoMA, New York, USA and by Tate, London, UK, amongst others. Her third monograph “Stable Vices” was published by MACK Books, London (2021). Her work is currently on view at the 59th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (2022), The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani. This September, her work will be included at the 16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, France (2022).

Formafantasma is a research-based design studio investigating the ecological, historical, political and social forces shaping the discipline of design today. Whether designing for a client or developing self-initiated projects, the studio applies the same rigorous attention to context, processes and details. Formafantasma’s analytical nature translates in meticulous visual outcomes, products and strategies. Their projects have been presented, published and acquired in the permanent collection of international museums including New York’s MoMA and Metropolitan Museum, Art Institute Chicago, London’s Victoria and Albert, Paris’ Musée National d’Art Moderne, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, CNAP, Fondation Cartier and Centre Pompidou, the Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, the Vienna’s MAK Museum, Utrecht’s Centraal Museum, Mudac Lausanne, North Carolina’s Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Rome’s Museo Maxxi, Vitra Design Museum, Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, Triennale di Milano, LACMA, Tilburg’s Textiel Museum and others. The studio conceived the exhibition design for this year’s 59th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Formafantasma was founded in 2009 by Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin.