Natalia LL, the Polish artist whose work was characterised by its scathing feminist critique, has died. Her most iconic piece was Consumer Art (1974), a 16-minute video and set of twelve close-up photographic portraits in which young female models suggestively ate bananas. In 1974, when the work was made, bananas were rarely found on supermarket shelves in Communist Poland, and the project became regarded for it critique of the regime’s patriarchal conservative values, as well as a lurking suspicion for western consumerism.
Consumer Art maintained its power: after the present Polish government, the rightwing Law & Justice party, parachuted in a likeminded director into the country’s National Museum in Warsaw, the work was removed from display. At the time, the new museum head Jerzy Miziolek said he was ‘opposed to showing works that could irritate sensitive young people’.
Others works featured the artist’s sister, photographed in an emotionally ambiguous state in the series Existences (c.1960s), her eyes averted from the camera; the artist herself, naked, alongside her husband in Intimate Photography (1968–69); and dressed as dominatrix in Velvet Terror I (1970).
Born Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, she studied at State High School of Fine Arts in Wrocław from 1957–63 and a year later received the Diploma of the Association of Polish Artists Photographers. In 1970 she co-founded the PERMAFO Gallery in Wrocław. In May 2007 she was awarded the Silver Medal for ‘Meritorious Service to Culture Gloria Artis’, and in January 2013 she received the Katarzyna Kobro Award. Four years ago she received with the Rosa Schapire Art Prize.