Dear visitors of the Gallery AMU, due to the current regulation of the Czech Republic government concerning security measures against the spread of coronavirus, the gallery will be closed from 12th to 25th of October 2020. Thank you for your understanding.
10.10.2020 - 1.11.2020 (opening: friday 9th of October 2020 1 - 7 PM)
Christian Kasners, Susanne Keichel, Tobias Neumann, Andrzej Steinbach, Lina Zacher
curated by: Stephanie Kiwitt, Anna Voswinckel, Tereza Rudolf
Exhibition is a part of Fotograf Festival #10
Second Talk: Shifting Perspective
Alžběta Bačíková, Susanne Keichel, Lina Zacher
9. 10. 2020, 5 PM
A conversation on the possibilities of a social documentary practice in contemporary photography and film. With the artists Alžběta Bačíková, Susanne Keichel and Lina Zacher.
Perspective is a question of seeing and taking action. Both of which are directly connected to the experience of space. We now inhabit a living environment and communications space that ask or allow for a multitude of perspectives. In light of this it is possible to again pose the question as to the nature of social documentary photography.
For years Tobias Neumann has been traveling to Lomé and photographing two sisters. He later continued the portrait series with one of the sisters in Leipzig. Though the living environments are very different, his sympathetic vision provides a common element.
In his picture sequence Andrzej Steinbach presents the portrait of a group of three individuals of the same age as an alliance of “shifting identities”. His portrait can be read as the antithesis to contemporary society’s desire for homogenization and clear borders.
In Nová Evropa Christian Kasners turns his attention towards similar questions in the Czech Republic. He reads and registers symbols of consumption, the xenophobic statements of right-wing populist politics, traces of National Socialism and manifestations of the Left and places these pictures in close proximity to one another.
Since 2015 Susanne Keichel has been reflecting on the treatment of refugees in her own surroundings as an object of political and logistical friction and as a xenophobic reaction.
As the product of a film workshop with inmates of a youth detention centre in Madagascar, Lina Zacher’s documentary portrays the living circumstances of this micro society from the perspective of the inmates themselves. To what extent are new spheres of action generated for the prisoners and the artist herself?
26. 9. – 2. 10. 2020 (opening: friday 25th of September 2020 6 PM)
Author: Natálie Podešvová, Jana Stárková and collective
Creative team: Adéla Križovenská, Natálie Matysková, Natálie Podešvová, Jan Poš, Jana Stárková, Veronika Traburová, Jan Vaniš
Performers: Jan Homola, Katarína Hudačková, Adéla Križovenská, Arman Kupelyan, Jana Maroušková, Natálie Podešvová, Jan Poš, Jan Štrachal, Veronika Traburová, Natálie Vacková, Jan Vaniš, Adéla Voldrábová
Dance performance made by HAMU students and their guests led by choreographer Natálie Podešvová.
Due to limited capacity, a reservation is required at e-mail address: email@example.com.
premiere: 25. 9. 19:30
next shows: 30. 9. and 2. 10.
The project consist of the dance performance presented in the AMU Gallery, as well as the multimedia exhibition.
Escape, run away, flee – effugio. Have you ever succeeded to get away from your own mind? Or to win the fight with obsessive-compulsive thoughts? Do you know how does it feel to live in a world where others condemned you for not being able to do that?
Mental discomfort – everyone knows it, everyone deals with it on his own. What is so unbearable in a person’s life that one chooses self-harm as a way to escape mental discomfort?
Self-harm is most common in young people. Intentional physical self-harm is most common in girls between the ages of 13-17. Yer they are not the only ones to solve problems with self-harm, using self-hatred instead of self-love. Where does it come from? Where is the beginning of self-destruction and why is it easier for others to not see these problems?
The Effugio project is a dance installation based on the tradition of physical theater. It tries to reveal the common causes that lead people to this extreme solution. It asks about the triggers and about the relationship with the environment.
This project is created with the support of HAMU and GAMU.
12. 9. – 20. 9. 2020 (opening: friday 11th of September 2020 6 PM)
Exhibitors: Juan David Calderón Ardila, Ranaji Deb, Oskar Helcel, Martin Netočný, Hassan Sarbakhshian, Evgenii Smirnov, Longyu You
curated by: Hynek Alt
graphic design: Matěj Moravec
Diploma exhibition of students of Department of Photography, FAMU, Prague.
What is the mood like in the country?
Last dictator loses his grip.
I just don’t exist.
You trade your health for art.
There are no viruses here.
Extremists try to storm German parliament.
Leave before it’s too late!
Villagers prefer hard work.
NBA players take a real political action.
China hits back.
Share your experiences!
Drone footage reveals scale of damage.
Candidate comes out of hiding.
Zuckerberg blames contractors.
Each day we learn about a new loss.
Turmoil sparks starkly different reactions.
Banksy funds refugee rescue boat.
New York’s not dead.
People turn their basements into secret fantasy worlds.
Unite and heal!
The simple present tense is used to express an action that is happening now or regularly. It is the most common form of the verb used. These examples of headlines using simple present tense are taken from today’s issue of the British newspaper The Guardian.
Recognizing signs of the present time lies at the core of an artist’s practice. The constant flow and the unclear distinction of when present emerges from the immediate future only to slip into petrified past a moment later, make this task extremely demanding on one’s attention. All technical images as individual or sequential indexical recordings always capture only what is here and now. That is a quality of technical images that helps us distinguish our memories from our immediate experiences since the time of shadows in caves.
Seven students exhibiting their diploma projects derive their initial experience from photography. Each one’s practice has evolved over time and each one has arrived at utilizing a different medium and an original language of their own. No common theme is treated in the Simple Present Tense exhibition, it is rather shared physical and psychological conditions in which all the works were conceived. A situation of informational overload, insecurity, and extreme change in how we perceive physical reality produced strategies of radical honesty, flexibility, and the necessity for new precision.
29. 8. – 6. 9. 2020 (opening: friday 28th of August 2020 6 PM)
Exhibiting artists: František Fekete, Vendula Guhová, Lucie Ščurková, Veronika Švecová
The graduate exhibition of students of the Center for Audiovisual Studies (FAMU in Prague).
The Need for Soil Care (panel discussion) – 2nd of September, 6 PM
The exhibition’s title Step Aside serves the exhibited artists as a metaphor, one which shows the desire to view the development of our civilization from new angles. This can mean conscious deceleration, comprehending the repercussions of our actions, attempting a sustainable future and the role of the artist within it, or drawing attention to marginalized social groups or phenomena.
František Fekete Auto-Portrait as Doubt video installation
Auto-Portrait as Doubt is a video on the threshold of an essay and a moving collage. The author asks questions regarding the sense of his own work and considers doubt as a vehicle for creativity. Through doubt he interrogates his identity as artist, and the mechanisms and limits of artistic creation. The video is very introspective, but it also comprises of fragments of dialogue with other authors. Through the audio-visual composition of original images, family archives, found material, drawings and texts, he questions the circumstances of its own creation.
Lucie Ščurková The Root of Humanity cycle of photographs, drawings
How would you narrate the creation of the world and the people in it? Would the heroes survive until today? And if yes, how would they fare? The Root of Humanity presents a new mythology with all the integral features. Its heroes, Gaia and Golem, fight developers, cars and normativity, but they are beset by stereotypes at every turn.
Vendula Guhová Enriching the Soil
fertile soil with enough hummus has the ability to retain humidity, absorb CO2, last through bad weather conditions, and of course provide better nutritional value to food. That is why it is necessary to enrich it organically and carefully preserve the life within. One centimeter of soil takes about one hundred years to form, but we often misuse it as if it were a fully renewable resource.
Soil is not just dead rock, but a living mass full of microorganisms, worms, fungi and nutrients. The soil of vast monocultural fields is often damaged by the use of industrial fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention their subsequent draining into the water table and their negative effect on the environment’s ability to regenerate.
The injection of organic matter into the soil has a complex range of effects, as opposed to adding individual chemical elements in the form of industrial fertilizer. We can consider soil much like we consider air – it is a common resource which needs to be protected.
The simplest way for a city dweller to add to the richness of the soil without access to farm fertilizers, green fertilizers or intermediate crops is to throw their coffee grinds or carrot peels into the compost. The intention of the installation is to create a shared gesture, and to show that the issue of soil needs a systemic solution.
There are posters plastered around Malá Strana and local institutions calling for participation in the enrichment of soil – to throw bio-waste into the compost. The gallery visitors can write down what they contributed to the compost. The installation exhibits mental maps assembled by experts focusing on the interconnection of compost and the enrichment of soil in agriculture and their potential use for it. During the exhibition, the author will go to venues and institutions in the locality and try to get their bio-waste. She regularly goes to care for the work, sift it, add to it with her own bio-waste and mix it with soil from a conventional field from the gallery floor. After the exhibition ends, the partly-decomposed compost will be moved to a conventional field at the edge of Prague, thus enriching it. The composter will be moved to a publicly accessible outside space in Malá Strana so that it might continue to serve its purpose.
composter – Štěpán Trefil, graphics – Vendula Guhová, consulting of the project – Tomáš Uhnák, Martin Blažíček, mental maps created by soil experts – Alžběta Randusová (Ministerial Council for Soil, Protection at the Ministry of Agriculture), Soňa Valčíková (consultant for biowaste and composting, Kokoza), Soňa Jonášová (Institute of Circular Economics), Jaroslav Záhora (soil biologist, Mendel University), Barbora Chmelová (ecologist), František Hájek (agronomist, Jarošovice composting plant)
Veronika Švecová The Final Quest of the Real-Playness
A traumatic adolescence brings a girl to the obsessive and escapist play of video games. The pressing vacuum of helplessness which tyrannizes her everyday life encroaches on her budding imagination. The avatar from her favorite video game fully embodies her parallel identity. A quest for the key gives the girl a chance at escaping from the shadows of her spoiled reality. All it takes is to make it through the final level and to meet the hostile demons, who reflect the deprivation of her teenage experience, face to face.
We are injected into the fragment of the innocent girl’s room and discover the battlefield of the game’s final scene where she becomes transformed into her own gamic idol. May she soon overcome the last obstacles and may her fantastical visions become the landscape of her own dreams.
8. 7. – 23. 8. 2020 (opening: Tuesday 7th of July 2020, 6:00 PM)
Phoebe Berglund (USA), Veronika Čechmánková (CZ), Agnieszka Mastalerz (PL) a Michał Szaranowicz (PL)
curated by: Viktor Čech
exhibition architecture: Matěj Kos
graphic design: Jan Slabihoudek
Analysis of Choreography and Movement (workshop by Hana Polanská Turečková): 21st of July, 4 PM
Lecture effort (lecture by Viktor Čech): 5th of August, 6 PM
Guided tour (by Viktor Čech): 20th of August, 6 PM
The second part of the project dedicated to physical movement, dance and choreography in contemporary art interrogates physical exertion and the act of labor. The will and energy to move is not only connected with a number of functional mechanisms and the fulfillment of an ideal effectiveness in the field of the human body, but is also a landscape which is integrally political, a place of control and resistance, physical effects and their symbolic manifestations. The exhibiting artists meet in a network of structures suspended between these two polarities.
The physical exertions with which we perform any motion have many various aspects and qualities which influence not only their function and results, but also their visual form. As the modernist choreographer Rudolf Laban already showed in his research of motion as a site of work, the connection between a specific quality of our physical exertion, whether we mean the strength we put in, its speed or flow, leads directly to defining certain choreographic forms. The topic of exertion however cannot be discussed only from the vantage point of the human body’s biomechanics. It is closely connected with our will to actively inhabit this world and we cannot imagine performing any activities, much less work, without it.
Any physical exertion is closely connected to the processes of labor/work, their direction, motivation and reflexive relationship to our body. Just like with the focus on choreography, we cannot avoid the question of control, appropriation and objectification of the human body. Many research projects indeed closely studied these circumstances – and not just in the extreme efficiency of Fordism – which led to the incessant repetition of a limited register of movements on the part of the worker and also included visual analyses of motions of labor. The seeming boundary between the world of industrial production and the aesthetics of movement was collapsed in the work of Soviet avant-garde researcher and poet Alexei Gastev, the head of the Moscow Labor Office. His poetry celebrates the synthesis of the worker and the machine, and the visual analyses of work activities constitute a beautiful example of this.
At least since 19th century modernism, labor, its political, social and ethical value has also constituted an important topic for visual art. This exhibition project would like to approach this topic from a specific perspective which melds a choreographic understanding of movement as a form and function with the viewpoint of visual art which examines these aspects in their symbolic and formal representation. The presented work of American choreographer and artist Phoebe Berglund, the Czech artist Veronika Čechmánková and the Polish artists Agnieszka Mastalerz and Michal Szaranowicz focuses on various aspects of the above-mentioned: on the relationship between a physical effort at movement, the social and cultural contexts connected with it and the understanding of the role of our embodiment within this complex webbing.
Phoebe Berglund: Basic Economy vs. Economy vs. Flexible Economy three channell video, 2020, 15 mins
Basic Economy vs. Economy vs. Flexible Economy is a three-channel employee training video that explores the relationship between the flexible body of the worker and flexible economic models. Berglund plays the role of the Sotheby’s office worker, moving through tasks in her office on Wall Street to sleepless nights in a hotel room during a business trip to Shanghai, to her apt in Soho during Covid-19 quarantine. We watch her work, eat, sleep, take taxi rides on highways and dance at night. The videos are narrated by Berglund, who weaves text from human resources websites with fiction and her personal travel diary. Themes that run throughout are social and economic mobility, itinerant lifestyle, aspirational wealth, solitude, cybersex, time and debt.
Phoebe Berglund: Work Poster: Office Stretches three posters, 2020
Cubicle by Phoebe Berglund invites us to imagine a darkened, vacant office in Manhattan. Staff are no longer present, working from home while in quarantine. A laminated chart entitled “Office Stretches” hangs in solitude in an empty cubicle, presenting a range of effective stretching exercises for office workers. These images of the body wait for the workers to return and assume their positions.
Imagine you are the worker. Place one hand softly on the top of your head and cradle your chin with the other. Tilt your neck to the left, guiding it with your hands, until you feel a stretch. Place both hands on the small of your back in the shape of a diamond. Take a deep breath in and look up to the ceiling. Rest your forehead on your keyboard and listen to your heartbeat. Spread your legs, make a phone call. Imagine yourself in another realm. Press your face to the Microsoft Office Window screen and you will see me. I am in your cubicle, you are in your body, we are moving together as one, now, in virtual time and space, dancing till the world ends.
Work Poster: Office Stretches was commissioned by Wendy’s Subway and designed by Simran Ankolkar. The printed poster is available to order from Wendy’s Subway at https://bit.ly/workposters
Veronika Čechmánková: Dialog with The Previous video, 2019, 2:15 mins, installation
In her video performance, Veronika Čechmánková connects two seemingly contrasting worlds. The first is the contemporary culture of the exercising body, nowadays oftentimes connected to trends such a yoga and the search for a mythical integrity and balance between soul and body. The second is the world of our rural great-grandmothers, with their every-day hard work and the all-too literal earning of their daily bread. The ritual of harvest, of working with a scythe, its choreography, is portrayed here as a form of initiation – through the individual exertions towards the final catharsis which takes the form of bread. In some ways, the ideal world of hard work and bread-winning of former village life, connected with the endless repetition of the cycles of human life and nature, melds with contemporary civil reality in which a similar exertion and disciplining of the body in gyms seems more like a simulacrum which covers over the technocratic aspects of our society.
Agnieszka Mastalerz & Michał Szaranowicz: Primary Swarm, 2020 and Sluice, 2018, loop
In Warsaw, on the East bank of the Vistula, across the river from the Museum of Modern Art an investment Port Praski (in English: Prague Harbour) is being realised. Between 1885-2012 the area served as a harbour, which was surrounded by rather poor tenement buildings and a green wasteland, there was a slaughterhouse, too. The ambitious emerging housing development should change the place’s aura for a European-class district. The investment cannot be finished until a water lock is built.
The installation touches upon Port Praski and points out to the sluice’s function – as a mechanism that changes level of something that goes through it.
The installation comprises two videos by Agnieszka Mastalerz and Michał Szaranowicz: Sluice (the anthropometric gate out of hands, 2018) and Primary Swarm (the group of explorers which traverses a cocoon-like space, as well as the black-and-white registration of an unaffected part of today’s Port Praski, 2020).
video by Miroslava Konečná
Hana Polanská Turečková: Choreography and Analysis of Movement (workshop)
In the first half of the 20th century, Rudolf Laban developed an analysis of movement which even today remains unrivalled. There, he also studied workers during labor. He then managed to accurately describe and categorize their every-day gestures and functional movements and integrate them into a systematic study. His analysis of the complex understanding of movement includes the body, effort, shape and space harmony. During our workshop, we will attempt to use the study of effort so that we might see how to perform movement in our everyday lives and how we might be able to expand it into the field of dance expression. Together, as a group, we will then create a choreography inspired by Rudolf Laban’s analysis and we will use this time to have fun and study the question of movement in relation to its quality.
5. 3. – 28. 6. 2020 (opening: Wednesday 4th of March 2020, 6:00 PM)
Janek Rous, Hana Turečková Polanská a Ivan Svoboda, Zuzana Žabková
curated by: Viktor Čech
exhibition architecture: Matěj Kos
graphic design: Jan Slabihoudek
10th of June 2020, 7 PM, Dance as a Metaphor of Thinking? (lecture by Viktor Čech)
17th of June 2020, 6 PM, Ecosystems of Movement and Thinking (panel discussion)
25th of June 2020, 6 PM, Guided tour
Can physical movement be considered a metaphor for our thought? Can we understand it as a method which allows us to relate to thought processes by other than verbal means? The project was constructed around these questions, and connects the exhibition with a series of lectures, screenings and discussions which will be realized in GAMU throughout the upcoming year. Their shared interest lies in the zone where contemporary dance and choreography meets visual and fine art, exploring the relationship of our bodily movement and its structure with various aspects of our reality. The project entitled Choreography of Mind is supposed to offer an initial definition of the whole project, a process through which discourses of contemporary art and dance find their place in their local situations. That is also why the exhibition, which will be realized in the gallery space, is most importantly a platform for live dialogue and is supported by an accompanying program.
The selection of the presented works focuses on a few aspects of the relationship of choreography and bodily movement to contemporary artistic practice in the gallery sphere. While the two exhibited works of the Slovakian artist Zuzana Žabková are a great example of the synthesis between the work of a choreographer and visual artist which use unexpected shifts in the tasks of both these fields, the work created by Hana Polanská specially for the exhibition (in creative collaboration with Ivan Svoboda and a number of other participants) is the outcome of the collaboration between a choreographer, dancer and visual artist reacting to the theoretical discourse pertaining to the exhibition, most importantly the seminal text by Alain Badiou. On the other hand, the fictitious photo-documentary by Janek Rous is an example of one of the situations in which the relationship between physical movement and verbal narration appears simultaneously in the language of contemporary video art.
The accompanying program will consist of a number of events. The first will be a thematic lecture inspired by the essay of Alain Badiou pertaining to the understanding of dance as a metaphor for thought which might tease out the parallels of this relationship among the global works relating to these two fields (Viktor Čech). The second will feature a moderated discussion panel with a group of invited guests, asking about the relationship to physical motion, and the ideology and conceptual framework in the sphere of contemporary art.
video by Miroslava Konečná
Zuzana Žabková: Une elevation arrondi retirée, video, 2010, 1:50 mins.
In this video, the artist has used her experience of working as choreographer as, based of the taxonomy of classical French dance, she wrote a poetic text which, in the Slovakian language, achieved an autonomous literary sense. Dancers dancing on a neutral black background applied it as a formalized expression of dance with its own abstract values. The voice which reads the text replaces the musical component and simultaneously creates a contrast between its lyricism and the concrete technical take on the choreography. As in many of her other works, Žabková developed her complex approach using techniques of the media of choreography in a shifted context which simultaneously explores its boundaries. In this sense, the much more flexible and wider field of visual art serves as a space for realizing her unique artistic discourse which at the same time retains its grounding in the art of dance.
Ballet libretto Une élevation arrondi retirée
Une balancoire entrelacé a la terre
Une glissade a gauche , a droit un deboulé
Devant le deboulé un defilé glissé
en dedan sciseaux jeté
a gauche ballon en l air au milieuII.
Enchainement des preparatioin a une grande apotheose
En l air feerie des attitudes elevées
Defilé des aplombs posés
Les demi- caractere relevé
Tourbillon des reverencesIII.
Entré des pas de bouré
Les attitude elevé detourné
Ballon par terre
Échapé bourré retiré en promenade
Temps de l´ange
Echappé frappé par élevation arrondi
Pas de deux passés changés
Les bras assemblés
Enchainement des contretemps
Entrée des pistolets
Cou de pied emboité
en descandant le deboulé échappé demiplié
echappé devant le défillé
les ciseaux ouvert devant le defilé
Une élevation arrondi retirée derriere
Feérie des temps lié ua passé effacé
Dégagement d ´équilibre couru
na zemi pohodená prepletená hojdačka
na ľavo kĺzačka, na pravo odľahlý prudký
pred zjazdom klzká úžina, v nej pohodené
v strede balón vo vzduchuII.
na veľkú oslavu
vo vzduchu čaro vznešených postojov
sprievod hraných sebavedomí, šľachetných polocharakterov
vstup opitých krokov
vznešené postoje obmenené
veľká oslava oslabená
balón na zemi
osamelý opitý unikajúci na prechádzke
unikajúci unesený zaoblenou vznešenosťou
kroky dvoch zmenených minulostí na prechádzke
sled neočakávaných udalostí
vykĺbený priehlavok, schádzajúc prudký zjazd utečenec zohnutý
unikajúci pred úžinou
pred úžinou otvorené nožnice
zaoblená vznešenosť opustená za
čaro časov minulých pominulo
uvoľnenie známej rovnováhy
Zuzana Žabková: De Profundis,, video, 2012, 4:43 mins.
In this video, the author multiplied the figure of the conductor managing an invisible orchestra. Each of its individualities, which conducts one part of a Psalm written by a different composer, received a “choreography” determined by the moving camera. This creates for not only a poetic visual study of this specific language of movement, but also a special inversion of its paradigm, where that which controls and directs becomes a subject of aesthetic analysis. The author shifts the semantic language of the conductor’s gestures, which are at the same time a demanding aesthetic and expressive form, moving from a type of gestural language towards a combinatorial game with the individual performers’ movement qualities.
Janek Rous: Vysvobození z bytu, kde prach je uchováván z úzkosti a se smyslem pro pořádek (Escape from a Flat where Anxiety Stores Dust with a Sense for Tidiness), video, 2019, 15:53 min.
The fictitious documentary of Janek Rous is not only a verbal narration developed around a real-life story of one unnamed place, but also a visual and gestural expression of a small drama which reflects our recent past, our present and the crisis of values connected with it. The gestures and movements of that anonymous narrator and the movement of the camera are also an interesting example of the relationship between gestures and bodily movement which the narrative fiction applies to it, which creates the basic framework of the resulting artistic message.
Tanec jako metafora pro myšlenku (Dance as a Metaphor for Thought). Alain Badiou, Hana Polanská in collaboration with Ivan Svoboda, 2020, video installation
In her project created specially for this exhibition, the choreographer Hana Polanská, working in collaboration with artist Ivan Svoboda, dancer Zdenka Svíteková and other participants, created a triptych of videos supplemented by a sound recording which develop a creative interdisciplinary dialogue with the already mentioned text of Alain Badiou, entitled Dance as a Metaphor for Thought.
She is not even a dancer:
improvisation and text reading: Zdeňka Brungot-Svíteková
text: Alain Badiou, Dance as a Metaphor for Thought (výňatky)
camera: Ivan Svoboda
Le Roi danse:
dancer: Jakub Češpivo
camera: Ivan Svoboda
music: Spotify – výběr Jakuba Češpivo
camera: Ivan Svoboda
music: Jean Babtiste Lully, Le Roi Danse
speech: Zdeńka Brungot-Svíteková, Jakub Češpivo
6. 2. – 16. 2. 2020 (opening: Wednesday 5th of February at 6 PM)
Nikola Klinger, Anežka Horová, Marie- Anna Šulc- Hajšman, Alexandra Sihelská, Aleš Zůbek, Hannah Saleh, Lucie Ščurková, Gabriela Paliová, Jozef Čabo, Veronika Švecová
curated by: Marie Lukáčová, David Kořínek
graphic design: Jan Slabihoudek
The group exhibition Horizont událostí (Event Horizon) presents a selection of contemporary student works of the Center for Audiovisual Studies at FAMU straddling the boundaries between performance, film and new media. The exhibition builds on the exhibition Horizont událostí I. which took place in Galerie Fotograf.
Gallery AMU presents a selection of the most interesting final works by students of the Department of Photography at FAMU. The compilation of student projects is an intersection of several topics that search much more for questions than answers for specific problems. The installation most often reflects current social topics such as work, money, technology, individuality or emotions.
29. 11. - 20. 12. 2019/ exhibition extended to 5. 1. 2020 (opening: Thursday 28th. November 2019 at 6 PM, Commented tour: Wednesday 18th. December 2019 at 6 PM)
Marie Lukáčová, Matěj Pavlík, Lucie Rosenfeldová
exhibition architecture: Kateřina Kulanová
graphic design: Jan Slabihoudek
A Composite Portrait of Resisting Images
In the following text, I will attempt to answer the question of how to view the exhibition, or rather how to imagine it as a whole, one which spans a number of rooms and features various works by various authors, and thus resists any holistic form of understanding. A possible starting point might be found in the style of one of the exhibited works – composite portraiture.
This method was developed by the pioneer Francis Galton when he exhibited faces photographed from a certain angle and in identical conditions, so that all the faces included in the group created one unified visage. The “image statistics” thus chose the typical features, while only the specters of traces remained from their individual idiosyncrasies. Galton considered the technology of photography as a materialization of empiricism and naturalism, i.e. something that secures objective understanding through the transparency of its representations. Biometric photography thus served him as a tool for mathematizing biology, sociology and anthropology, which are the sciences which, at least in Galton’s mind, converge in the study of eugenics. They not only provide a theoretical description of phenomena, but also prescribe protocols of social engineering. The mathematization of sciences and, vicariously, the mathematization of the described and proscribed world, fused with the instrumentalization of scientific understanding and knowing in order to foster a supposedly rational sovereignty over the world.
This created the conditions for establishing everything as reducible to information. This process today tends towards more abstract forms of commodification and the financialization of everything. Despite occasional proclamations to the contrary, contemporary art is also part of this political economy. As a form of investment, art constitutes mostly economic value, while the aesthetic value serves only as camouflage for profit-oriented speculation. The autonomy of art, which the Modernist theorists clamored for, remains a false flag for those who are just not in the market for anything at the given moment. Much like information, images are generated from the tension between repetition and novelty, and become units of the libidinal economy. The former distinction between artistic performance as a model of non-alienated work becomes inverted into the dictates of creativity, originality and authenticity which make us subjects both in and for ourselves.
Sigmund Freud, one of the foremost interpreters of modern subjectivity, referenced Galton’s method of composite portraiture in order to focus on of the fundamental features of working with dreams – condensation – through which the dream overlaps various phenomena into a single one. Freud assumed that by means of untangling them, for example by means of tracing their individual and less obvious content, one can find access to the otherwise inaccessible unconscious. The translator Charles Mauron continued in this legacy by also making recourse to composite photography in his formulation of the “psychocritical” method. He used it to help him discover heretofore undisclosed features and relationships in texts, which might stem from the author’s unconscious. By overlapping the texts of the same author, much like in the case of Galton’s photographs, Mauron attempted to uncover obsessive networks of associations or clusters of images. Again, he did not follow the differences, but rather the common features among them, meaning the unintentional patterns of ordering. For our purposes, we should adapt Mauron’s method for our purposes. We do not have to question whether we are really diving into the authors’ unconscious. After all, the physiognomic types which Galton extracted from the photographs of particular faces do not exist in the sense that they show identical, living people. Rather, they assume a working of abstraction which might be understood as a certain type of apophenia, which is the tendency to perceive connections and meanings in unrelated things. Similarly, Mauron’s approach merits rethinking also in the very conception of the unconscious, which might not be directly linked to the question of meaning, but rather to output. All of the (not only) unconscious images could then be understood as potentially useful, whether they might be used in science, medicine, in the methods of administration, surveillance or governance, artistic projects or popular culture.
At the same time, it seems productive to focus not on the unconscious, as Freud described it, but on that which N. Katherine Hayles calls the “cognitive nonconscious,” by which she means cognitive processes distributed across human, non-human, biological and technical systems. If Mauron considered artistic production to be the objectivization of subjective consciousness, revising his approach might yield the insight that creation is at the very least a bi-directional process transpiring between subjects and objects. It is also necessary to speak of images, so that they might not silence us, and it is important to also speak to them in this sense. Not to look at images, but rather with images. And maybe to collectively come up with a way of selling ourselves, in order to pay for ourselves, but to not let ourselves be bought.
text Vojtěch Märc
video Miroslava Konečná
photo Max Vajt
GAMU (Gallery AMU), Malostranské náměstí 12, Praha 1
(entrance from the passage to Tržiště Street)
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contact: MgA. Petr Krátký (gallery director), firstname.lastname@example.org
The AMU Gallery’s exhibition program is made possible by the financial support of the Prague City Hall and of the Ministry of Culture Czech Republic.