Culture / Art Republik

TRANSHUMANISM: An Exhibition by Joanna Grochowska

What future do we want? What must we do to get there?

Feb 19, 2024 | By Florence Sutton
Joanna Grochowska’s “Prototype” (2021)

What is transhumanism? Transhumanism in its essence is advocating the use of sophisticated technologies and artificial intelligence to enhance the human condition (and cognition) in the form of enhancing abilities and overcoming biological constraints. Transhumanism often gets a negative depiction in media and is sometimes pigeonholed as being a post-apocalyptic, post-human “nightmare”. This is what contemporary artist Joanna Grochowska tries to unpick in her latest exhibition with its motto: “What Future Do We Want? What Must We Do To Get There?”, which is a quote from Klaus Schwab’s “The Great Narrative: For a Better Future”. The exhibition is the continuation of her previous project dubbed “Opening the Future” that was presented in Munich in 2021.

Joanna Grochowska’s “The New World” (2022)

Read More: Art and Transhumanism: Humanity as a Project in the work of Joanna Grochowska

In 2020 LUXUO covered the work of Joanna Grochowska highlighting how she utilised the concept of “a Doll of Hans Bellmer” to depict eroticism, pain, and power in a posthuman modified body. This is what we see today, subversive imagery represented by unclothed human bodies. Her haute photography depicts eroticism, pain and power across faceless figures in lifeless poses without sexual organs and identifiable features.

Joanna Grochowska
Joanna Grochowska’s “Portrait” (2020)

Her 2024 showcase similarly explores transhumanism and human enhancement technologies as part of an ongoing dialogue about how the future will view morphological freedom. Using the notions of “transgression” and “singularity” as the conceptual basis of her art with transhuman and posthuman figurativeness being dominant themes, Joanna highlights the progression of technological evolution with the emergence of new paradigms in gender, body, and identity.

Joanna Grochowska’s “Buried II” (2024)

Author Natasha Vita-More writes that the philosophy of transhumanism deals with the fundamental nature of reality, knowledge, and existence. She states “as a worldview, it offers a cultural ecology for understanding the human integration with technology. As a scientific study, it provides the techniques for observing how technology is shaping society and the practice for investigating ethical outcomes.” She goes on to delve into how a social narrative emerges from humans overcoming odds and the continued desire to build a world worth living in. The processes that come out of it require critical thinking and visionary accounts to assess how technology is altering human nature and what it means to be human in an uncertain world.

Joanna Grochowska’s “Transfiguration” (2023)

German philosopher Stefan Lorenz Sorgner debunks widespread myths about transhumanism stating “transhumanism is widely misunderstood because the media has exaggerated current technologies and branded the movement as dangerous, leading many to believe that hybrid humans may soon walk among us and that immortality, achieved by means of mind-uploading, is imminent”.

Joanna Grochowska’s Slash Adornment (2020)

There is an element of the grotesque in the work of Joanna Grochowska but done purposefully and artfully. Grotesque in itself is a visual art genre that arguably started with the Romans but achieved notoriety in the 18th-century Renaissance era so it is interesting to see how Grochowska reinterprets his genre to include a futuristic take. Paying special attention to gender fluidity, many of Grochowska’s work delineate the body after a sex reassignment surgery. Her work of merging human and technology to denote hybrid forms is not simply an artful absurdity. Purposefully incongruous, distorted, and slightly disturbing imagery is intended to make the viewer stop, think, and question perceptions of pleasure, pain and beauty.

Joanna Grochowska’s Transhumanism exhibition will take place from 18 February to 17 March 2024 at the Galerie Verbeeck – Van Dyck in Antwerp, Belgium.

Head to Joanna Grochowska’s website and or check out her Instagram account @facelesshumanforms for more information.

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