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On 12 August, the eminent artist, author of the series "Consumer Art", co-founder of the international feminist movement, conceptualist Natalia LL (1937-2022) passed away at the age of 85. She was professionally active for almost 60 years, wrote critical texts and engaged in art theory. Her work can be seen in museums and galleries around the world.

About Natalia LL

Natalia LL has worked in photography, performance art, video art and traditional art disciplines (drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking). She drew inspiration for her work from the field of popular culture, mass media and pornography.

In 1963, she graduated from the State Higher School of Visual Arts in Wrocław. Between 1970 and 1981, together with Zbigniew Dłubak, Andrzej Lachowicz and Antoni Dzieduszycki, she ran the gallery, magazine and group "Permafo" (the name comes from the words permanent photography). The group's gallery was one of the first places where new media art was popularized: photography, film and performance. In 2007, she was awarded the Silver Medal for 'Merit to Culture Gloria Artis'. And in 2018, she was honoured with the Rosa Schapire Art Prize (a prize awarded by the association of friends of the Kunsthalle in Hamburg).

"Consumer art''

In "Consumer Art'' (1972-75), Natalia LL's most famous collection of works, photographs and films in which she licks and suggestively eats a bruised banana predominate. One film, meanwhile, shows her putting a spoonful of melted ice cream in her mouth and then spitting it back out, letting it run down her chin. The artist herself claimed that: "Western critics said and wrote that this was critical art showing that there was nothing in communist Poland, these sausages, bananas. It was critical art that exposes the PRL". Some critics in Poland, on the other hand, believed that the active role of the female model in the photographs (e.g. looking into the lens) leads to the instrumentalization of the male. Thus, traditional social and cultural roles are reversed.

In 2015, 'Consumer Art' was included in the Tate Modern exhibition , "The World Goes Pop". In 2019, the director of the National Museum in Warsaw decided to remove Lach-Lachowicz's works from the exhibition, arguing that they were inferior and distracting to young people. As a result, there were mass protests over the removal of the work, which some described as #bananagate. During these, scores of people gathered outside the headquarters of the National Museum in Warsaw and, referring to Natalia LL's "Consumer Art", ate bananas. Eventually, under pressure from critics, the director of the institution decided to reinstate the work for exhibition.

Added 2022-08-19 in by Alicja Graczyk

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