Emotional tensions and guilty subtexts that lie behind the acts of gift giving are a starting point for Małgorzata Markiewicz’s investigations of the power struggles in relationships. The red neon sign, Can I Make You Feel Bad? in the shape of a necklace, lends the exhibition its title.
Markiewicz’s work addresses themes such as the uncanny, gendered spaces and roles, manifestations of desire, threat and power in domestic scenarios. For her first solo exhibition at l’étrangère the artist brings together neon, metal and ceramic, photographs, crocheted sculptures and found objects.
Metal cobwebs stretched across the windows indicate a prison-like environment where the underlying power tensions in relationships become oppressive and destructive. Markiewicz appropriated the erratic patterning that spiders created when administered with toxic solutions during a scientific experiment. Whilst the spider’s process of weaving is paralleled in the act of ‘homemaking’ and creating a support structure, the accelerated irregularity caused by this intoxication intimates what happens when home comforts and relationships turn toxic.
A series of photographs of the artist dressed in a sexy pinafore, performing various household duties, underpins the problematics of traditional gender roles and associated tensions.
Found gloves that Markiewicz bunched and stitched together into soft sculptural forms and placed, precariously, on a series of twisted stands become simulators of human contact and coupling, touch and desire. This gesture is repeated in a soft neon replicating a drawing of two hands clasped together standing as a beacon of hope within the chaos of destructive power struggles.