Karolina Wojtas challenges the limitations and rules of schools and the education system. In her surreal images, she provides no answers, but creates further confusion through playful and absurd interpretations.
Why was a pen taped around a child’s hand with bright red packing tape? Does this photograph depict a playful performance or a brutal punishment?
Polish artist Karolina Wojtas (b. 1996) challenges the limitations and rules of schools and the education system. She reacted to the controversial decision to radically change the school system in 2017 by introducing even more chaos. Her surreal images of playing, fooling around, and acting without thinking—characteristics of children’s activities—contribute confusion rather than provide answers that might encourage discipline and structure. This includes putting a cage on her brother’s head or wrapping packing tape around his hand, captured in a photograph in which the viewer does not see at first glance that the finger and writing instrument are interchangeable.
Wojtas establishes an eccentric relationship between play, irony, and criticism with a fantastical world of childish ideas by alienating objects and making children’s rooms into playgrounds: she transforms building blocks into enormous, room-filling sculptures that are printed with photographs, through which she transports viewers to the world of the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels. From the perspective of children, she challenges the power of a rigid and militaristic school system that is not only found in her own country.
In her working method, the artist renounces meticulous planning, instead fostering unpredictability and spontaneity. Wojtas invites visitors to an exhibition playground that challenges the norms of being an adult. Her rejection of convention, maturity, and seriousness is reflected in her rejection of the traditional manner of exhibiting photography. She strives for exhibitions that go beyond two-dimensionality and become a participatory experience.
FOTO ARSENAL WIEN presents around thirty photographs, videos, and installations by the Polish artist in her first solo show in Austria.
Karolina Wojtas graduated from Łódź Film School and Institute of Creative Photography in the Czech Republic. She has been nominated for numerous prizes and received the ING Award in Amsterdam in 2019 and the C/O Berlin Talent Award in 2022. Her works have been shown at Foam Museum in Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Fotogalleri Vasli Souza in Oslo, Beijing 1+1 Art Center in Beijing and MNAC – Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea in Lisboa, among others. She lives in Poland.