CHEAP ART

14. 12. 2018 - 27. 1. 2019 (opening: Thursday, 13th December 2018 at 6 p. m.)

Barbora Fastrová & Johana Pošová

curated by: Tereza Jindrová

graphic design: Jaromír Skácel

The discussion on the topic of the upcoming environmental catastrophe and the related themes of sustainable development, nature conservation and ecology have steadily been making their way into Czechia. The joint work of Barbora Fastrová and Johana Pošová has however been developing and exploring the topic of the relationship between culture and nature, of the “natural” and the “artificial” for a long time. The method as well as content of their exhibition Cheap Art for AMU Gallery is recycling. The artists experiment with how far they can influence the preparation of the exhibition and its final form, as well as the audience’s experience of it. They attempt a conscientious approach and strictly use only recycled materials, as well as eschewing the use of electricity.

This attempt at decreasing the production and consumption (of material and energy) is partly “an exercise” in which the artists themselves decide on the rules and the limitations of their work. This is a generally comprehensible gesture which reacts to the society of hyperconsumption, entailing also the art world; this however often hypocritically obfuscates the mechanisms of consumption and waste by implementing a so-called critical discourse. This exhibition project is also a form of immediate experience and an example of failure, tension and ambiguity in determining boundaries. The artists keep in mind the ecological standpoints while also wanting to continue exhibiting and making art. The central reason for producing the exhibition is not to present a perfectly ecological outcome, but rather to demonstrate in practice the difficulties and paradoxes resulting from working with such specific limitations.

Among the values we seek in art, beauty is the most traditional one, the one that is even today generally expected (if not required) from the works of art. Although it is impossible to establish an absolute and universal standard of beauty, we can see that certain objects and motives were and still are (often within otherwise distant cultures) considered to be its quintessential domain

Visual deception, illusion set up by manipulation with the medium (or the model) and facilitated by the preconceptions of the spectator’s eye, features heavily in her work. It thus reminds us that perception itself is not stable and beauty can be seen in unexpected places. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

What does it mean to know how to look at art? It also means “to understand” that what is represented as the subtext of each representation is the artist’s individuality.

Apart from their mutual friendship, the artists share a striving for non-traditional methods of narration. They also share an interest in the themes related to feminine perception of the world, and in the interpretation of emotion and vision.

Finally, we can observe the paradox and absurdity of categorizing that which is feminine and that which is masculine: is meticulous handcraft and housework natural for women while men can inscribe their tempestuous creative climax on the canvas with paint, or is a man the keeper of rationality while woman represents intuition and untrammeled instinct?

However, rather than conducting a purely rational analysis of a particular phenomenon, ### is interested in broader structures and processes

This is the creation of a fecund substrate for experiencing togetherness, responsibility, continuity.

Tenderness and intimacy of the presented works function as a subversive strategy, consciously open to interpretation as a form of parody or caricature.

They remind us of the frailty of all values, power structures, cultures and our own lives. Memory doesn’t exist without time and time fundamentally means disintegration.

As observer we can either recoil from such a painting due to fear, impatience and disinterest, or make our gaze at home in it.

These might be banal thoughts, but maybe we can perceive their obverse side in a certain evacuation of imagination from the contemporary world, or rather in the shift in proportion between (virtual) imagination and (real) experience. ### can also be understood as an analogy to the way the technical image and virtual reality increasingly bleed into the palpable world, and through the quantity of their impulses and increasing perfection (in the mimetic sense) rather transform the capabilities of the imagination into a form of advanced consumption.

The ### exhibition does not set out to formulate a single critical position or to be in any way activist.

### wants to avoid the cliché of the urge to attack or, on the other hand, to defend the necessity and usefulness of art and artists. The subtext to these varied artistic approaches and varied audience reactions to an open concept can be framed by the idea that contemporary artistic production in fact explicitly shows the arbitrariness – which is, in other words, a lack of meaning, or “just” the contextual, historical motivations – which is not however in any way limited to the confines of the art world: it is equally felt, if only differently integrated, evaluated and sublimated, in the “work” experiences of an increasingly vast segment of modern society.

Contemplation within the gallery’s white cube does not create a new reality which wouldn’t be present in the world “outside,” but rather insistently focuses attention to the most banal of facts, generating a certain existential tension. It is about the detail. Changing a part changes the whole.

Simply said, we wanted the manner of the installation to be balanced and aesthetically satisfying; so that it would give each work enough space to stand out.

The final outcome – the exhibition – however shouldn’t be a “ dictionary of intermedia,” but rather should form an organic whole.

To match Nature, or actually surpass it, is an illusory yardstick for the artist, “a hunt for the white whale”, and both artists are well aware of that.

There is no doubt that the exhibition ###  will provoke a contradictory response on the part of the general and professional public. It may produce cracks among the viewers, too, when it comes to questions of taste, invention, relation to tradition, participation as well as the degree of meaningfulness and communicability. However, in any case, I am convinced that the potential discussions to emerge out of these cracks will be of meaning and value.

(recycled curatorial text by Tereza Jindrová)

special thanks to: Jakub Hybler, Matěj Šenkyřík

partners: Ministry of Culture Czech Republic, Institute of Intermedia (IIM)