‘Stable Vices’ are behavioral stereotypes of equines, especially horses: they are usually undesired habits that often develop as a result of being confined to a stable with insufficient exercise, bored, hungry, over-energetic or in isolation. If not addressed, they lead to serious health consequences for the animal.
Joanna Piotrowska’s volume opens with a sequence of three delicate gestures, a finger pointing to three parts of the body: a closed eye, a collarbone and the hollow of the elbow. After that, the narrative unfolds over the three photographic series presented in the book, through which the author focuses on notions of oppression, protection, and the preservation of freedom, crystallizing the spectrum of themes that drive her production entirely.
The first series is inspired by illustrated self-defense manuals and the essay ‘Joining the Resistance’ by feminist psychologist carol Gilligan. In Piotrowska’s images the aggressor disappears, and the female bodies engaged in defending themselves against the invisible enemy reveal the insurmountable burden they are forced to face on a daily basis.
The second sequence shows us domestic interiors crowded with precarious shelters made of furniture and blankets. The adults hidden inside them grow back into children, in a hide-and-seek that has lost the dimension of play and acquired that of hostility and precariousness.
The last pages of the book reveal the meaning of the title chosen by the artist: the cages are emptied of animals, welcoming human beings. Piotrowska studies their gestures and movement in captivity, ‘gestaltically’ tracing the basis of behavior in the way reality is perceived, and not as it really is.