Exhibitions

The exhibition I Don’t Exist When You Don’t See Me is the fourth instalment in a series of exhibitions about artistic media at the Futura gallery. After video art, sculpture and painting, it is the turn of photography.The exhibition’s curator, Jiří Ptáček, saw photography as a medium whose tradition and function are ripe for conceptual reassessment. However, he set the topic as a polemic with the standard idea of photography: photography places us face to face with reality and brings it closer to us. He invited fifteen Czech artists, groups and duos to contribute work in which the opposite principle is present. I Don’t Exist When You Don’t See Me therefore presents work in which we find an element of absence or rejection. “My own experience of photography is a desire to get behind the amount of information a photo provides. Because the image is static and always relates to reality, I arrived at the naive understanding that I am made more distant, pushed away from reality by photographs,” said Ptáček. The incompleteness of photography and conceptual play with this phenomenon is the reason the curator mostly invited artists that have a relationship with the conceptual grasp of photography. I Don’t Exist When You Don’t See Me aims to transmit the tension a photographer places in a photograph with a gesture when he denies us some expected information or, on the contrary, adds a hoped-for (but unattainable) dimension. In some cases this approach is trivial, at other times almost imperceptible or refined. For example, the portraits of Jan Šerých, as well as the Mina and Václav Stratil groups, deny us the form of the photographed person in a very banal manner, Michal Pěchouček’s slideshow hides the climax of the story it develops from us and Markéta Kinterová’s cycle cannot disclose the destination of the person watched voyeuristically. In the case of the abstract Mayday series by Markéta Othová, it is the name that brings uncertainty into the contemplative atmosphere, whether they are only sensually rich compositions or incomprehensible (!) signals – cries for help. On the other hand, there are the three-dimensional jigsaw pop-up pictures of Matěj Smetana, which, in a witty and childish manner, attempt to add unattainable spaciousness to a photograph. Photographers of the younger and intermediate generations are represented at the exhibition. There is also a historical excursion, in the form of a re-exhibition of samples from the Hidden Image cycle by Jiří David and the Monastic Patient cycle by Václav Stratil, from the beginning of the 1990s. Both deal with the problem of identity, but they also emphasise the significance of convention regarding the understanding of photography. Younger authors (such as Silvina Arismendi, Matěj Smetana and the Guma Guar group) contributed new works created specifically for the exhibition project. It can basically be said that both the generation from the second half of the 1990s and the youngest artists are, more and more clearly, pointing to the method of handling photographs, which they perceive as being both images and based on the tradition and function of artefacts, whilst also being ordinary physical objects. The aim of I Don’t Exist When You Don’t t See Me is to draw the viewer’s attention to how a photograph’s ability to be a means of recording reality can be a motive to play with the limitations of this “tool.”

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