Rachel Czajkowski’s recent body of work “Body vs. The Enemy” revisits a crucial period of her youth, at the age of 15, when she experienced pulmonary failure, which led to various surgeries. Utilizing several mediums such as illustration, photography, and interactive pieces, she depicts the experience of emotional and physical pain. The series addresses various states of mind recalled during this time, attempting to suggest the way mental states cling to and react to the body. An extended self-portrait as well as a depiction of a figure in trauma, the work evokes inner turmoil and a sense of its containment within a fragile body.
In continuing this body of work, Czajkowski explores how the experience of physical pain can be physicalized into objects that can be seen and touched by the viewer. The haunting imagery found in the photographs registers a sense of coldness and distance while the paintings and drawings of figures express disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty. The use of analog photography and its laborious, physical processes echoes the tactile experience and physicality of a traumatizing experience. For instance, the use of wet plate photography and its protracted, delicate methods reflect the sense of the body as fragile. There is a sense of holistic integration in both the style and the subject of the work. The work uses various media together just as bodies, similarly, function as personal ecosystems, interdependent and vulnerable to any rupture in the system. Pain is a primal yet universal feeling. With the use of her various mediums, the artist heals and invites the viewer to experience her painful memories and join in the process of alleviation and release.