Aneta Grzeszykowska subverts the normative mother-daughter behavior in her series Mama, photographs I find to be as irresistible as they are deeply disturbing. The artist appears as herself in each image. Herself, that is, as an adult doll, a simulacrum of her naked upper torso. Her daughter—aged seven? eight?— is always near, glimpsed as a full figure or as the side of a face, a hand, a leg, a foot. Daughter rests with Mother on a bed; Daughter rolls Mother in a little cart down to the river; Daughter floats face up in the river next to Mother; helps Mother take a drag on a cigarette; gives Mother a bath; puts makeup on Mother; poses Mother on a chaise longue, an abandoned toy doll face down in the foreground. Mother appears frozen, as indeed she is; frozen due to trauma or death? Is Daughter caretaker or custodian? Companion or guardian? Are we observers to Daughter caring for Mother? Or voyeurs to Daughter’s playtime? Is Mama the Persephone myth turned on its head? Or a visual folk tale, strange as folk tales are?
at Lyles and King