Profiles

Filip Cenek’s work can be perceived within the context of the language of film, although it is not about film in a strict formal sense. It is more about the resources he draws upon for his visual articulation, such as narrative or poetic traces in the form of text, and work with the photographic image in mechanical motion. From another perspective, Cenek’s work draws on the concept of cooperation, again reminiscent of film production. Many of his works up till now were created with other artists with whom he is friends, e.g. Tereza Sochorová, Ivan Palacký, Magdalena Hrubá and Jiří Havlíček. Cenek’s “video” installations are reminiscent of two independent, perhaps even opposed, revolving mental circles, whose mutual permeation is only intermittent. What both these circles have in common, one full of images, the other of texts, is memory, its loss and recovery.

Just as the backstage character of collectively created projects is personal and internally concealed, so the logical key to individual texts and images is partially hidden in the artist’s slideshows. Cenek openly plays with various types of aposiopesis and non-pronounceability. He factors in a very human forgetfulness and attempts to use his own or borrowed images in order to classify a kind of ephemeral synecdoche, i.e. composites comprising moving parts and a fragmentary association of the whole that almost regularly accompanies the poetics of the text. This is produced as a subtitled trace, similar to the translations of film dialogue. The translatability of Cenek’s thoughts can be corroborated using the example of his humble fascination with observing childish impulses without any inclination to nostalgia. The movement of childish behaviour and the remembrance of past experiences is almost conspicuously identical with the basis of movement, to which Cenek lends an instrumental expression. Everything is combined from the quantity of fragmentary material and sentences/verses, each of which has its own semantic position.

With the title of one of his carousel stereo projections (On a Clear Day) the commencement of narration develops into a possible indicator of “that” day. However, the essence of narration is subsequently transformed into a number of imaginative paths and a variation of grasped memories. This work was part of the larger project Wonky Cinema, which won Cenek a place among the finalists of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 2011. Another feature of the artist’s reconstruction of memory is “blackout”, i.e. a black void or white crossover that refers to “nothing”, to the symbolic expression of the imperfect or distorted memory, to its possible repression. The black (and blue) void plays an important role when reading Cenek’s videos as symbol and not as an imitation of darkness. It is a stage in the direction of a non-linear story, the possibilities of the imagination in the revolving movement of the carousel discs. “The world of children is strikingly honest in the sense that it does not create the appearance of narrative (meaning) at any cost”, as Cenek himself said in an interview with Martin Mazanec in the last issue of Labyrinth Revue (on the theme of “the art of forgetting”), which to a certain extent is the unofficial credo of the artist’s conceptualisation of narrative in general. This is so in the case of the video Authoress (2008), on which he collaborated with Tereza Sochorová, I’m Not Even Sure (2008), created with Jiří Havlíček, or his later, solo projects, in which there is a clear gravitation toward minimisation of the sequence of images and a priority given to the symbolic perceptions in the text.

As I once wrote about Filip Cenek and remain convinced of: the open platform that the artist makes present as cyclical event attempts in vain to record the most elusive element, namely time, which is always changing as part of the whole and which hangs over our heads while we are never capable of grasping it in its entirety. This is how that double synecdoche arises, in which language is text and image, by which we attempt to approach the past, while ensuring that the past in pictures is a fiction of the present in the text we are reading right now.

Radim Langer (via artlist.cz)

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