7. August – 6. September 2009
If we understand art only in its sense of a specific mechanism for moving boundaries, and temporarily remove its evolutionary frustrations, we are bound to find many limitations in the current situation which have, without any obvious revolutions, advanced in various directions (social, psychological, scientific, ethnographic etc.) Despite all of this, contemporary art and thinking often sink into doubts. It questions itself and looks for its own possibilities outside itself. Even the most unobtrusive and altruistic forms are not explicitly satisfying.
Such a position is a fertile ground for romantic comebacks in the shape of parallel worlds and escapisms into new exoticisms being found either entirely outside the galaxy or inside the society itself, and not outside the geographical borders of the so-called civilized world in the manner of colonial politics. Contemplating the beginning and the end becomes a logical theme in the atmosphere of a globalized market and absence of superior ideological concept. Oversaturation, plurality, utopia, exoticism viewed as something different and distinct reflect the decay of the former hierarchy of values and power. A kaleidoscopic perception of the world does not allow us to believe in its apocalyptic unique termination and to anticipate it as one great and impressive image. Evolution contradicts itself, flows back into the past, offering plurality. The formal capacity of visual material may transcend its limits into more ultimate quantities and be enriched by irrational constructions reminiscent of other ways of organization such as organic structures, ritual, occult, conspiratorial, survivalistic, doctrinal, pseudo-scientific, and other empirical entities.
This exhibition is not intended to glorify the big questions concerning the civilization landmarks, (e.g. like „Apocalypse“ – an exhibition held at the turn of the millenium at the Royal Academy in London, the sequel to the groundbreaking Sensation exhibition). Its aim is to think about the return of socio-irrational motives into the art of the youngest generation, about a new kind of responsibility of art and to introduce various formal ways of stepping beyond the boundaries of objectivity and reason as well as looking for the relationship between reality and fiction. The world’s oversaturation with possibilities of visual expression and frivolous and manipulative handling of images in today’s consumer and political society leads to hiccups like forms of artistic transcriptions such as collages, assemblages, edits, mash-ups, accumulations, stroboscopic and kaleidoscopic effects, channel surfing, sampling, various forms of destructive or intentionally raw inteferences into the traditional forms.
The exhibiting artists are mostly last year’s graduates, however, most of them already have a distinctive exhibiting history. Among the more established, but still rebellious artists, is Jubal Brown. Working in Toronto, he is an artist, curator, founder and a member of several collectives focused on the production and presentation of specific film genres. He is presented as one of the members of the now defunct collective Fame Fame which engaged itself in new forms of video-art reacting to the complex transformation of video-art following its embrace of forms associated with new technologies and internet portals, djing and vjing, thematically focused on activist and socio-political commentaries. The presented video – Total War – is based on confronting YouTube and Hollywood culture, interchanging entertainment and reality, staged and original (real) resources. Themes such as sex, violence and death are absolutely unavoidable. They are not directed towards a catharsis but rather their unbearable concentration makes a reference to the content of current mass media and entertainment images which are slightly more diluted. All the material ultimately comes from public TV and internet sources. On the formal level he employs a critical and parodic use of the methods common with YouTube users which he transforms into a feature-length film collage.
Filip Cenek. Living and working in Prague he has continually, individually and collectively (collective Fiume and cooperations with Jiří Havliček and Magdalena Hrubá) practicaly and theoreticaly devoted himself to film, video and animation. In 2004 he was awarded the Tranzit Developmental Grant for the work in the area of visual media and participates in NewNew! and FreshFilmFest festivals. He is a co‑author of the visual aspect of the electronic project Midi Lidi. Factual resources and real stories in his videos and video-installations are deprived of linear narratives, he is not interested in telling a story, on the contrary, the concrete shapes are blurred and the contents are obscured. A spectator senses a concrete inspirational source. Through generalization it can also become his or her own problem. The intense and urgent atmosphere builds a larger frame-work, which when accepted, allows us to observe the functioning of the individual and collective memory and to deal with an event as a new myth.
Richard Healy, living in London, works with a relatively narrow scope of geometrical abstraction and graphic art and design. Even in such relatively constricted areas the artist finds unlimited thinking resources and possibilities of its formal usage. He is fascinated with the new energy of old geometric directions, pop-art and op-art and at the same time he handles them very cautiously, being fully aware of their limitations. By profound application of geometric principles he misleads the spectator from the path of retro entertainment to the way of abstract frustration.
The non-existence of a higher ideal and the consumer principles forming the essence of our society, which is in turn used as an instrument for its control and manipulation, create a nearly paranoid image of the world built up on the conspiratorial networks or occultism. Timothy Roberts, an artist from London, uses these irrational concepts as a powerful aesthetic source for his installations. A weird mixture of both imaginary and real cults and rituals is presented as a spontaneous counterpart to the pragmatism of global economy and the feigned altruism of pro-government ecology. Through the destruction of the classical sculptural genre, he metaphorically attacks and questions the present „democratic“ value hierarchies and draws the attention to the hidden and raw undertows which permeate his rather harsh assemblage technique.
Matěj Smetana, living in Prague, contemplates the purpose of art, functionality of a form and its relation to the content. The eventual end of art was a topic he episodically dealt with in his comic strip – Poslední malíři (The Last Painters) – taking place in the age of a post nuclear war. In one of his best known works – an animated film Je to jenom film (It’s only a film) – the emptiness of form and the content react to the saturated horror film imagery. The film is a result of mechanical tracing and animation of several cult horror trailers. Another ultimate variation is Hradčanoid - a spinning silhouette of the Hradčany castle. Infinity, on the other hand, is handled by means of fractal animation.
Erik Tode has devoted himself almost exclusively to drawing, in both large and small formats. Exoticism of the incorporated attributes of African culture reflects the change in perceiving the exotics – not as strange and fascinating but more as something parallel. For Tode it is just one of the options. In the merging of African and western cultures he looks for the missing links in the society of western Europe. A similar parallel world reflecting his reality is the army – a society with a specific organizational structure which the author transforms in the spirit of his romantic and aesthetic needs.
Charlie Tweed, living in London, constructs other worlds and other alter-egos. He puts on a pragmatic face in a fictive pre-apocalyptic world and misuses scientific information to construct hypothetical scenarios for the future to give some sort of premature potential survival instructions. Recycled film footage and sound collages, sometimes being made indistinct by simulated mechanical damage, mingle with his own film content. Using a captivating atmosphere, he melodramatically brings the moment of a worldwide collapse of science, technology, ecology and the whole civilization into the present tense.
Civilization and popular cultural products such as sentimentality, glamour and emotionality are the topics for Conrad Ventur, an artist living in New York. He employs various media – particularly video-installation and drawing. The basis of his work is always conceptual, yet he is able to divert the spectator’s attention to almost romantic moods. He is an editor of the ‘Useless’ artistic magazine, published twice a year. His main interest is in original music performances designed for TV broadcasting, which he downloads from YouTube, puts them in new settings, creates new scenes and presents them in the form of a kaleidoscopic mosaic intended to evoke a strong emotional memory, a vivid recollection and a monument to a certain event. For this exhibition he is presenting a video-installation dedicated to Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit. The historical background of Billie Holiday’s performance in 1939 is no less important – Barney Josephson, the founder of the first ratially integrated night club, Cafe Society, in Greenwich Village, New York, introduced Billy Holiday to this song, written by a high school teacher Abel Meeropol as a protest agains racism and lynching in the Southern states.
George Young, another artist living in London, is also succumbing consciously to the fascination of scientific illusion, associating it with the beauty of deconstructing an image – an artistic evidence. While his drawings and paintings on paper with their symbolic, scientific and utopist content are overlapped by structural elements of a physical painting, factual utopia takes place in the questioning of a visual icon which may reveal some new points of view but in the end it seems to return to itself.
„So Much More“ deliberately ignores the requirements for the realization of certain tasks or thematic contents in particular works; it rather tries to fulfill its conception as a whole, i.e. not through the illustrative show of separate exhibits.