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 35–36)
Years active 1999-present
Spouse(s) Richard Kern[1]

Early life[edit]

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


Her artistic evolution has drifted from photography and video to installation and performance, often bringing the viewer into a deeply intimate rapport with the artist-cum-subject

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,[2] 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 will engage visitors in a visceral form of communication without visuality as primary form.

In an interview with New York Times Magazine, Wawrzyniak traces her obsession with scent back to her childhood in communist Poland, recalling buses filled with smelly passengers in days when deodorant was a luxury good, and explaining, "I have incredibly vivid memories of liking certain people because of their smell and being afraid of others because of their smell". Today she complains that people mask their smells with soap and perfume, calling the mix of inorganic scents a "horrible cocktail".

"In today's society we do everything we can to mask the natural scent of our bodies", Wawrzyniak says, "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."

In November 2010, she contributed to "4 Sale", a collaboration of four female artists exploring conceptions of eroticism using themselves as the subjects.[3] 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.[3] 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".[3] W magazine commented that Wawrzyniak "explores femininity with both brutality and warmth".[4]

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

Personal life[edit]

She is married to underground filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern.[1]


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


  • "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. ^ a b Misheff, Johnny (May 31, 2011). "Visiting Artists | Martynka Wawrzyniak". The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  2. ^ Beta, Andy (November 11, 2012). "Getting Literal About 'Inner Beauty'". Wall Street Journal. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Martynka Wawrzyniak". November 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Martynka Wawrzyniak Biography" (PDF). Retrieved June 11, 2011. 

External links[edit]