art curatorial collective

Marzena Abrahamik
Girl Play

April 28, 2017 — June 4, 2017

Johalla Projects is very pleased to present Girl Play, its second solo exhibition of work by the Chicago-based artist Marzena Abrahamik. Embarking deeper into her artistic exploration of intimacy and female friendship, this new series of photographs recontextualizes the relationships of marijuana, interpersonal connectivity, and the strength in female vulnerability. The exhibition will run from April 28th, 2016 to June 4th, 2016. An opening reception will be held with the artist on Friday, April 28th from 7-10pm.

Having grown up in both Poland and Greece before moving to America, Abrahamik experienced first hand the frustrations and failures of language when trying to spark friendship and connection. As a result, she moved through the blockades of language by observing the subtleties of others’ gestures and bodily movements. Cannabis use in a social setting became another form of finding connectivity through mutual physical experiences as bodily sensation spoke in ways language could not. Abrahamik’s loosely autobiographical photography practice speaks to this past, as artist and sitter embark on a shared use of illusory substances during artistic production. As reservations dissolve and and trust is nurtured, Abrahamik composes a saturated tableau of color and light that washes over the female body, plant life, and domestic arrangements. The intimate physical communing found in Girl Play also interrupts social stigmas and stereotypes of women's relationships to cannabis, alternatively framing marijuana in the context of sisterhood and strength.

Generosity is a foundational component to the Girl Play series. Her sitters open their home, time, inhibitions, and intimacy to Abrahamik, who, in return, offers much of the same. Each composition Abrahamik constructs harmonizes a bountiful display of formal qualities that evoke the romantic haze of fleeting experiences and passing memories. Much in the same sense, Abrahamik’s practice is divorced from rigid definitions of documentation. Alternatively, her photography is formally imbued with her conceptual intent; heightened displays of sensory engagement enliven a rendering of symbiotic bodily and emotional connectivity. In Girl Play, Abrahamik unlocks inhibitions to visualize powerful female openness in lush depictions of strength and dream-like narratives.

—Written by Kate Pollasch

Marzena Abrahamik received her BA from Loyola University in 2002 and her MFA from Yale University in 2013. Her recent solo exhibitions include presentations at Johalla Projects, Chicago (2017, 2015), the Gallery of Classic Photography, Moscow (2013), and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Boone, North Carolina (2012). Group exhibition highlights include the Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh (2016), Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago (2016), Soccer Club Club, Chicago (2016), Sushi Bar, New York (2014), the International Photography Festival, Tel-Aviv (2014), and Aperture, New York (2013). Her work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and Haas Family Art Library at Yale University. Her work can currently be seen in the Whitney Houston Biennial in New York.

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