Alina Szapocznikow Documents. Works. Interpretations
Anda Rottenberg

In Alina Szapocznikow’s oeuvre, only one series refers in its title to the process which in fact has been present in her works for years.

Tumeurs personifiees has been translated into Polish as Tumory uosobnione and into English as Tumours Personified. Sixteen polyester heads of various sizes made in 1971 are deformed self-portraits, shown for the first time (in Galerie Aurora in Geneva) as Desintegration de personalite. Szapocznikow changed the title of the work only when it was shown again (in Salon de la Jeune Sculpture in Paris), shortly before her second oncological surgery, in June 1972. A double shift in meaning and accents occurs here; to begin with, the artist’s focus shifts from personality understood in psychological terms to the physical person or persona; secondly, the concept of dissemination (disintegration) is replaced by the concept of the concentration of matter (tumors). One may also argue that it is not so much a matter of focus, as a decision of the artist to reveal what she perceives as a parallel between the biological and the creative orders. In other words, the parallel between life and creativity, earlier read in terms of disintegration, only in the last phase becomes concentrated and absorbed. A process of personalization of art begins, in which the creative subject, the “I” undergoes a transformation in the object, a “self.” It may be valuable to rethink again the narrative of the life and work of Alina Szapocznikow in this context, posing the question when did this “self,” as yet unarticulated in a title, let itself be known in her art

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