Martynka Wawrzyniak

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Martynka Wawrzyniak (born 1979) is a New York City-based Polish-New Zealander-American mixed-media artist who has worked with photography, video, performance, sculpture, and installations.

Martynka Wawrzyniak
Born 1979 (age 36–37)
Years active 1999-present

Early life[edit]

Born in Poland, she moved to New Zealand at the age of eight and has lived in New York since 1998.


Martynka Wawrzyniak’s artistic evolution has drifted from photography and video to performance and installations, often bringing the viewer into a deeply intimate rapport with the artist-cum-subject. She is known for work that engages the senses, often while incorporating experimental techniques.

“Feed”, 2014[edit]

For her “Feed” exhibition, at envoy enterprises, New York in September 2014 Wawrzyniak committed to a year-long daily exercise which involved the use of one identical 20 x 20 -inch white cloth dinner napkin to wipe her mouth each night at dinner. She then proceeded to file the napkins with a detailed record of the ingredients of what she ate. The project culminated in an exhibition of the 365 soiled napkins sewn together in chronological order in the form of an interlocking, two-spiral 100-foot walk-in structure hanging from the gallery ceiling. This sculpture was accompanied by a limited edition book in which a photograph of each soiled napkin is accompanied by a detailed list of ingredients. Elaborate three-course meals are boiled down to a scientific index, leaving the taste and visual image of the meal up to the viewer’s imagination. The artist simultaneously collected 365 6 x 6 -inch paper lunch napkins, which she used to dab her mouth after her daily morning green juice. These paper napkins are arranged in twelve framed calendar formations, creating a visual record of time passing, much like a prisoner keeping track of time by drawing lines on the cell wall. Both pieces are tactile recordings of a daily performance, and in speaking about the months-long process, Wawrzyniak says: “I felt like I was sharing my meals with the public every day and made a conscious effort to be creative in my choice of ingredients. It was like having a daily dinner party. It becomes a tactile self-portrait, representing a year of my life recorded through the food that nourished me.” Furthermore, also included in the “Feed” exhibition were two small-scale sculptures: a casting of the negative space of the inside of the artist’s mouth out of edible golden candy and the hollow of her abdomen out of confectionery gum paste. Like the stains left over from meals on the napkins these pieces are negative imprints of a living, breathing body.

"Smell Me", 2012[edit]

In her "Smell Me" exhibition at envoy enterprises, New York in fall 2012, Wawrzyniak created an installation reflecting a year-long project where she acted as both investigator and subject exploring and capturing her biological essence. Working with a research team of Hunter College Chemistry students including Paul Kozlowski, Charles Paszkowski, and Paul S. Tewfik,[1] under the guidance of Professor Donna McGregor, the artist underwent multiple experiments to collect aromatic elements from her body. She was subject to rigorous sessions to extract the concentrated essence of her sweat, tears, and hair to create an olfactory-based self-portrait that would engage visitors in a visceral form of communication without visuality as primary form.

In order to fully immerse the installation space with the scent of her bodily aromas, Wawrzyniak collaborated with the re-known professional perfumer Yann Vasnier of Givaudan and scent director Dawn Goldworm of 12.29 on synthetically reconstituting the organic essences for diffusion. These aromas were released inside a specially designed scent chamber into which visitors entered to partake in a solitary experience. A limited edition of the original organic essences were displayed in tear shaped chemistry vials as well as three candles that were made of paraffin that was scraped off Wawrzyniak’s body then melted into 250 ml chemistry beakers.

In an interview with New York Times Magazine, Wawrzyniak explains, "In today's society we do everything we can to mask the natural scent of our bodies, thus forgoing an ancient form of animal communication. I wanted to isolate these primal human essences and deliver them in an environment devoid of other sensual distractions. The piece represents the true essence of a woman - free of visual prejudice."

"Eau De M", 2014[edit]

In 2014 she expanded the “Smell Me” olfactory self-portrait concept by exposing it to the wider public through guerilla advertising. The resultant piece, "Eau De M", which consisted of the artist’s sweat essence delivered by way of a magazine scent-strip fragrance advertisement, appeared as a double-sided insert in the full print run of the May 2014 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The advertisement became a vehicle for spreading her essence, letting the mass market consume her artwork unwittingly.

"Chocolate", 2011[edit]

In 2011, Wawyrzyniak released "Chocolate", a 9-and-a-half minute performance video in which the artist’s face is slowly submerged in 16 gallons of chocolate syrup.

"4 Sale", 2010[edit]

In November 2010, she contributed to "4 Sale", a collaboration of four female artists exploring conceptions of eroticism using themselves as the subjects.[2] Wawrzyniak's contribution was a photo series of the four artists naked except for a camera, and a video of the four applying lipstick first conventionally to their lips and then in deranged fashion to the rest of their faces.[2] In a review of the show, Artinfo described Wawrzyniak as owing "an allegiance both to the vamping of pinup girls and straightforward commercial portraiture", and praised the project as a "serious, well-crafted, yet approachable work that isn't afraid to handle sexuality with a mix of humor, drama, and the occasional dash of mysticism".[2] W magazine commented that Wawrzyniak "explores femininity with both brutality and warmth".[3]

"Ketchup", 2009[edit]

In 2009 Wawrzyniak performed "Ketchup", in which she stood blind folded as four 10 year-old boys armed with water guns filled with ketchup fired at her as she stood against a gallery wall. The video was later projected over the ketchup splattered wall with only the artist visible accompanied by audio of the boys voices. It was described by Walter Robinson of Artnet as being “like Lord of the Flies, but without the protective distance of fiction. “[4]

Wawrzyniak's work has been covered in The New York Times, New York, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, NRC Handelsblad, Garage Magazine, Vice, and The Wall Street Journal.


Wawrzyniak's work has appeared in exhibitions, both collective and solo, since 2003.[5]


  • "Feed", Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY
  • "Smell Me", Torch Gallery, Amsterdam
  • "Smell Me", Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY
  • Kids, Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY
  • Ketchup, Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY


  • "Survival 13 Art Review", "Prohibited Acts", Riot Police Barracks, Wroclaw, Poland
  • "Mouthfeel", Brenda May Gallery, Waterloo, NSW, Australia
  • The Great Debate About Art", envoy enterprises, New York, NY
  • "Biometrics and Portraiture", New Media Gallery, New Westminster, Canada
  • "DIAcussion", Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY
  • "Guest artist in Richard Kern - Vintage & Recent Works, Jousse Enterprise Gallery, Paris
  • "2012 F.G.Ft", Envoy Enterprises, New York, NY
  • Arcadian Night, curated by Kalika Farmer and Andrea Hill, Sheffield, MA
  • Voyeur, South Beach Miami
  • 4 Sale, Collaboration between Aneta Bartos, Elle Muliarchyk, Yana Toyber and Martynka Wawrzyniak, curated by Anne Huntington, New York
  • Secrets, Space 15 Twenty, Los Angeles
  • Salad Days, The Journal Gallery, New York
  • Single Lady, curated by Jenny Salomon, Kate Gilmore and Candice Madey, New York
  • PYT (Pretty Young Thing), curated by Anne Huntington and Diana Campbell, New York
  • 4x4: Four Figurative Photographers, Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
  • All in the Family, Screening curated by Laura Parnes, Sarah Meltzer Gallery, New York
  • PDN’S 30, Photo Plus Expo, New York
  • A Portrait of Fashion, Pochron Studios, New York
  • Tim Barber: Tiny Vices, Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York
  • Dt (Double Take) Show, ANP, The Netherlands.
  • Beyond Compare — Women Photographers on Beauty, Dove / Ogilvy and Mather, Internationally Traveling Exhibition.


  1. ^ Beta, Andy (November 11, 2012). "Getting Literal About 'Inner Beauty'". Wall Street Journal. 
  2. ^ a b c Indrisek, Scott (November 24, 2010). "The Erotic Mirror: Four Female Photographers Turn Their Naked Eyes on Themselves". Artinfo. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Martynka Wawrzyniak". November 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ Robinson, Walter (July 22, 2009). "Weekend Update". artnet. 
  5. ^ "Martynka Wawrzyniak Biography" (pdf). Retrieved June 11, 2011. 

External links[edit]