24.05.2023 - 29.07.2023
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Pavlína Morganová
Opening: 24th May, 7 pm
We have worked since 2019 under the unconductive trash label, which is an anagram of our home towns - Duchcov (Michal Pěchouček) and Traunstein (Rudi Koval). This fatalism-tinged pun metaphorically expresses the internal aspects of the joint working method. Trash accumulates during every creative process and production. Trash is an important and familiar concept from the landscape of cultural values. The The retardation property of the unconductive rules out the regulation of trash and the control of the direction of creative energy. The brand is therefore our distilled manifesto - in art, we do not consider it important to finish things. What matters is the beginning of creative activity, not its completed result. The purpose of our collaboration is to remove the layers of the past and discover a new artistic identity.
The starting point of our artistic interaction is the easel painting - it proved to be a suitable and accessible means in a joint search for a new linguistic and content identity. At the core of our collaboration is the desire to shed the layers of our own past, i.e. to learn to forget our original artistic handwritings. We explore a new painterly handwriting through different materials and methods, including the space and time dimensions of art. In a pair, it is possible to discover new subjects for artistic retelling and new ordinariness. We experiment with artistic means while trying to "moderate" the intensity and interconnectedness of joint everyday activities. We include in art not only common knowledge but also ordinary experiences, situations that can be planned and experienced together. We focus on one-day and long-term challenges. We try to employ this experience of subtle everyday reality in robust wholes such as exhibitions.
The title of the current exhibition LARGELY OBSERVED is inspired by one of the terms of the European macroseismic earthquake scale. It identifies a degree of critical condition that is widely observed, but need not be taken fatally - for us it is a possible expression of the quality of the viewer's experience, the power of the inner experience of an artwork. The exhibition opens with our first collaborative works, burning daylight (2020), and continues with unconductive chronology (2023), a series of forty-eight paintings sewn together. At the centre are two extensive cycles of paintings, gold tint (2022) and virgin blue (2023), inspired by research into visual evidence of suppressed stories of the past. We have conceived the exhibition as a dialogue between two worlds: past and present, big and small. Through monochromatic work with colour and figurative detail, we attempt to tell real stories of the 20th century that resonate with our everyday lives today.
virgin blue (2023)
This installation of paintings and a monumental work close to architecture, design and large-scale relief painting is inspired by period photographs of one of England's first women football teams, Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C., which was formed during the First World War. Despite achieving considerable popularity and sporting success, the team faced strong opposition from the Football Association which banned women from playing on their pitches and stadiums for fifty years. The reason for the ban was to "protect" women who, according to the association, were not physically capable of playing football. The series of paintings thus refers not only to the pitfalls of women's emancipation but also to the period of the world wars, marked by many structural social changes.
burning daylight (2020)
The first works of unconductive trash were created as an experiment - the artists jointly modified paintings created by Rudi Koval in 2017. The burning daylight series thus captures the moment of the encounter of two artistic personalities and their incompatible handwritings. A dialogue between abstraction and figuration, the painterly approached surface and the drawing of a sewing machine, the removal of a canvas and its stretching onto a different format, the elimination of what already existed as well as the clarification of work with paint were all part of a search for new procedures and subjects.
unconductive chronology (2023)
The continuous series of forty-eight paintings is conceived as a monumental element in space and as a sequence of film frames for a motion picture. The individual canvases show an intervention that shrinks their surface through repeated stitching, thus creating volume. The fabric creases irreversibly even after stretching on a wooden frame. Unconductive trash works on two sewing machines simultaneously, with minimum checking of the result and according to specified conditions that are repeated. In doing so, they capture a personal unity in something that is both work and idleness, that is both festive and ordinary.
unconductive loop (2023)
The subject of this interactive installation is the mechanics of the sewing machine, its magical sound and its unsurpassed contribution to human civilization. It is the stepping mechanism of the machine that made the movement of the film strip in the camera possible. The driving force behind this work is the observing audience - without their presence the work wouldn’t exist.
gold tint (2022)
The gold tint cycle of paintings is loosely inspired by documentary photographs of everyday life of soldiers during the Second World War. For example, a series of reportage photographs taken in 1940 by John Topham while working in the RAF intelligence shows a home guard unit in Gravesend, England rehearsing an entertaining Christmas show - the soldiers performed in female roles and clothes. The rehearsal was interrupted by an alarm and everyone had to move to a defensive position, there was no time to unmask and change into uniforms. The whole story, including the rehearsal, is documented in several telling snapshots. They capture the desire of the British soldiers to forget the reality of war for a while, to have fun and to make present the missing female element - to let the yearning for it sublimate. The images were censored for a long time by the British Ministry of Information to prevent them from being exploited by the enemy as they placed the soldier-hero in a completely new situation.
Gender parody and cross-dressing common in the theatre are not unique in the military, either as evidenced, for example, in the book Soldier Studies (Martin Dammann, ed., Soldier Studies. Cross-Dressing in der Wehrmacht, Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2019), with amateur photographs showing scenes featuring German soldiers dressed up as women - scenes that were in direct contradiction to Nazi ideology.
The scenes in the pictures captured through specific gestures and situations symbolically touch upon many aspects of today's discussion on gender stereotypes, human desires and various forms of identities. The artists want to emphasise, among other things, that men are capable of absolute empathy and that femininity is inherent to them. The search for normality and everyday ordinariness is natural for human beings, even in the chaos of war.
macroseismic scale, 2022
A figurative transcription of the European macroseismic scale which, unlike the older Richter scale, takes into account the intensity of human perception depending on physical changes. For example, the degree of largely observed defines the critical condition that is largely observed inside buildings. At this level, no one can pretend not to notice anything. Earthquakes inside buildings are felt by many, but only rarely outside.
you have no power over me, 2023
The textual intervention in the gallery window involves the line used to break the curse at the end of the fantasy film Labyrinth (directed by Jim Henson, 1986). Here, it is intended as a possible analogy to the figures of soldiers, or rather, to their experience of chaos and their desire to get out of it.
Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda
SIAMESE UNCLE & MONTAGE
The unusual format of the exhibitions of the two authors Katarína Hládeková (1984) and Jiří Kovanda (1953), having been prepared in parallel to each other by two curators and in two connected Fait Gallery areas intentionally reflects the possibility of their cooperation in different ways. Whilst being a classically approached exhibition the Siamese Uncle by the curator Pavel Vančát is of an expected retrospective nature disturbed by the mutual paraphrasing created by their existing art works making the identity of the artists mingle and almost merge. The new joint project of the second exhibition Montage, in cooperation with Marika Kupková, does, to the contrary, clearly display the separate roles of the authors and their mutual intersection is defined by the specific concept of video installations.
Denisa Kujelová, Head Curator of the Fait Gallery
Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda are connected not only by Hládeková’s PhD studies in Ústí nad Labem, but also by a sense of tranquil atmosphere and frequent emphasis on unexpectedly transformed detail. But while the very existence of Kovanda’s art works is always a bit of an unpredictable and uncertain nature, Hládeková is a storytelling perfectionist; while Kovanda is a grandmaster of improvisation, Hládeková, on the other side, constructs whole microuniverses. So how to introduce art works by artists of different generations and also with such different characteristics, connected rather by mutual sympathy and in two connnected exhibitions at once?
Their joint exhibition in Brno takes up a series of Kovanda’s various collaborations with other artists in a radical way: both artists completely give up their solitude and indeed the exclusive authorship of their artworks and allow them to coalesce, but also be seen in stark contrast to one another. The new and old works by both artists do not only communicate together here, but also merge and morph into collective new formations, postscripts and mutual comments. Some of them are a result of a joint debate, others were a unique intervention by one of the authors, and some were created during an improvisation in the gallery space (and some of them were borrowed from Kovanda’s biggest collector, Richard Adam). So Kovanda lets the curator’s car crash into Hládeková’s birthplace, Hládeková counters with a pack of hankerchiefs and a line of cactuses. Inspirations, allusions, contexts and after all the whole exhibiton start to move.
All of this allows us to see the works of both authors through the eyes of only one of them, through the prism of their own method, point of view and their opinion about the world. As if we among their art pieces happen to be again and again in that moment, when the approaching magnets start to repel or attract. This creates a strange Siamese duet of the two artists (and through a wall of two curators), a fun nonverbal dialogue between two generations about different bases, mutual influences and pure joy of the game and surprise, but also a small study about the principles of contemporary art and its elasticity.
Pavel Vančát, RailJet W. A. Mozart, 22. 9. 2015
The video by Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda, that was created specially for the exhibition, is untitled. That’s why this text is a short reflection of its possible names that could be found for it on the literal level. So. It could be called The Ruins because Jiří Kovanda works with a largely divided photo of a model created by Katarína Hládeková according to the famous painting The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel (1824), which was painted by Louis Daguerre according to his own dioramas. The Ruins can symbolize the final disintegration of the integrity of the original picture, as well as the partial remains of many media forms that are present between Daguerre‘s diorama and the exhibited video.
It could be called Holyrood Chapel as per the place that Daguerre supposedly never visited and whose reconstruction refers to repeatedly mediated pictures which actually do not relate to the reality at all. And that means as to the reality of the Holyrood chapel as well as the reality of its model produced by Katarína Hládeková. The emphasis on locality also points to the author's choice of the attractive sight worthy of postcards from trips or jigsaw puzzle (and once even dioramas).
In accordance with the name of the exhibition the video could be also called the Montage, as it is based upon the variation of the set of constant elements. What is important, however, Kovanda‘s attempts are spontaneous and uncorrected. In the video there are purposefully represented all variants that Jiří Kovanda had tried without selecting the "better" ones or adjusting their order. The purpose was not to make a movie, based on a prepared scenario, but to record the progress of thinking of a performer when handling a source, that he had not selected himself. So the video could be called the Test which was carried out by Katarína Hládeková on Jiří Kovanda and which simultaneously took place at the level of a unique joint work of artists based on the challenge set by the curator. (As well as, Learning or Mastering, which already brings us to the relationship between the two authors on the level of the former teacher and his student.)
It could be also called Patience from the famous card game played by a single player and which has an infinite number of variations. The subject attracting the audience might be the predictability as well as the surprise factor of his acts. Nota Bene, when playing with the cards, let’s say of a familiar cultural and historical nature.