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.
Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Tomáš Dvořák
Opening: February 22, 2023
Jan Šerých and I belong to the last generation that had a globe in their children's rooms. Children were usually given this decorative teaching aid when entering the primary school, as awareness of the whole world and the ability to read a map were, along with reading, writing, counting and telling time, among the basic skills that resonated with the modern ideal of literacy. The popularity of spherical, often rotating, relief, or even illuminated models of the Earth grew in the 1970s as a result of space exploration programmes on both sides of the Iron Curtain and the opportunity to view our planet from the outside, through images taken by astronauts. The globe thus no longer referred only to adventurous voyages and travels, when all places on its surface were described, but rather to the exploration of space: the Earth became a home port.
I didn't get my son a globe. The reason was not only the fact that we now carry the models of our planet in our pockets, but also the inappropriateness of such a gift, the guilt felt when "passing on" the planet to the next generation. On the globe today we can discover at the most diminishing glaciers, sinking tropical islands, or new ones made of garbage. The routes of overseas explorers have been taken over by cargo ships and refugee boats. Geography today is inherently geopolitical; maps show not only the unevenness of the globe's surface but also the inequalities among the planet’s inhabitants. What I found most off-putting about the student globes, however, was their small and fixed scale, reducing them to mere decorative symbols, and the flatness of the image emphasized by its application onto a sphere. The three-dimensional globe lies more than the flat surface of a map: although they appear so at first glance, paper or plastic have no inside or depth.
I am not referring here to the inner spheres of the Earth which are as inaccessible to us as the outer space, but to the area only a few kilometres thick that us earthlings inhabit. Bruno Latour calls this relatively thin layer, a fragile biofilm surviving at the interface between land, water and air, the "critical zone" in his recent books and projects. Negligible as it may be in relation to the size of the planet and the universe, it has thickness and density of its own; it is not just a surface but a living and diverse layer, a skin, a coating. The film needs to be peeled off from the globe and properly examined as to what it is made of and how it is made.
The critical zone can only be seen from a distance: we have to climb a tree or a hill, take off in a balloon or a plane, and today we can use from the comfort of our homes virtual globes made up of a multitude of continuously updated satellite images. Among the most popular ones is Google Earth, which gives the impression of a continuous and homogeneous map on which we can zoom in on any place on Earth and view the stage of earthlings' existence. In reality, however, its software assembles images taken by different providers, with different spatial resolutions or levels of detail, with different colours and from different eras (Ukrainian Bachmut still exists on Google Earth). Especially in less-exposed places, its mosaic character and complexity (in the original sense of composition) can be revealed the closer we get to the Earth. Zooming in and out and refocusing are among the most important media techniques today. It is no coincidence that the golden age of zooming in cinema goes back to the 1970s, a time of awakening planetary consciousness stimulated by spaceflights, when zooming still implied the possibility of a smooth transition between different dimensions, ultimately always related to humans. But zooming is not just an optical, aesthetic effect; it is at the same time and above all a technique of comparison. It is a special kind of moving image (no longer in the sense of the virtual motion of a film, not even the movement of a person navigating through a map); it changes the scale of things and thus of the observers. Rather than as a technique of overview and appropriation, zoom can be understood and used to encounter otherness and to learn to approach and move away, closeness and distance, in spatial, chronological, mental and cultural terms. Such an encounter is no longer a manipulation of a unified, neatly arranged model of the world, but a negotiation of particular people in particular situations in which we are always a detail and the whole at once.