Anka Leśniak

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WORKS 2014


prostitute, swindler, thief

the exhibition Reborn Babies
Play Poland Film Festival, Edynburgh, Scotland
curator: Magdalena Swacha (Komborska)


video frames

A year ago I asked the question the inhabitants of the Wilda district in Poznań (considered to be the most dangerous district of the city) whether they associate women with crime and how they imagine a woman-felon. The reason for my curiosity were the statistics, which show that only approx. 10% of all crimes in Poland are committed by women, much more often women are victims of crimes. Although it was the crimes committed by women that shook the Polish public opinion in recent years.

Prostitutes, swindlers and thieves are three dominant images which emerged from questionnaires and talks. People also pointed out certain features of the appearance of such women. One of the interviewees stated that a women-felon often change their look, make-up, hair color, hairstyle... Then I began to wonder about cultural stereotypes of femininity and the image of the woman-suspect.

Next, I made drawings based on questionnaires. My drawings resemble police identikits, but in this case they are a compilation both of the actual experiences of inhabitants and their fears, prejudices and stereotypes. In the next step of the project I tried to make my face similar to the faces from my identikits. The make-up process and its effect was recorded in a series of photos and video. Paradoxically, my attempts to embody and materialize the image of a woman-felon showed its artificiality and performativity.

make-up: Małgorzata Jakóbowska
hairstyles: Tomek Sielecki
foto/video documentation – Izabela Maciejewska

quotations used in the video based on the movie „Monster” (2003) by Patty Jenkins

see the project Suspect (2013)