Reports

The exhibition Exposition revolves around „key words“ – museum and collections or art collecting. We may see these two areas as organically linked which simultaneously create a tension between private and public, institutionalized and intimate. „Every collection is a potential basis of a museum“ was the motto of the Slovenian exhibition Zbiram – toraj som (Ptuj 1992). We may say that collecting (as a method) and quasi-musealisation are becoming typical features of contemporary art. Let us mention the internationally acknowledged artists Mark Dion or Susan Hiller, curatorial shows such as the latest Documenta (2012) and Biennale in Venice (2013). Modern art can afford to create contemporary Wunderkammers where we may see bizzare artifacts, curiosities next to products of nature, technical devices and works of art. While the interest of today´s (as well as yesterday´s) art in archival documents, theoretically reflected as „archive turn“, has in fact already become a canonical chapter, a collection seems to open new and broader opportunities (but worse to define). We may claim that a collection is in fact more convenient than an archive. Unlike the bureaucratic and functional nature of an archive which needs to be arranged in a comprehensive way somewhere inside, a collection offers itself to be displayed, exposed. Therefore we can see not only traditional institutions such as museums being enlivened by contemporary works of art and projects but also occasions when aesthetics and „logic“ of museums infiltrate into galleries.
The Jelení Gallery has brought together works of three female artists and we may say that in a certain sense they represent three types of museums – a natural history museum, an antropological and archaeological museum and an art one.
Jana Doležalová is concerned with ecological issues, with the relationship of man and nature, or the diversity of species. She collects different „samples“ and also information. Her complex installation in the Jelení Gallery revolves around the term „ecological niche“ which is „illustrated“ in an origial way using different media. She has chosen the extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) and the passenger pigeon as representatives of the empty niche and the entire installation is connected through the „sign“ of penetrating niches full of symbolics. The meaning of Jana Doležalová´s project is both artistic and educational. It posseses its own beauty and poetics, but it also aims at criticising man´s treatment of nature and at peacefully appealing at getting personally involved.
Štěpánka Sigmundová has been interested for a long time in the process of collecting, in the aesthetics of museum exhibitions and the way visitors behave in museums. For the exhibiton in the Gallery Jelení she has composed in a new way her private collection of untraditional souvenirs from her travels, which create a kind of microcosmos capable of reflecting the entire universe of our contemporary world. She has displayed objects from her collection in a traditional archaeological show-case from the 1950s and she moves on the border between personal and shared memory (generally preserved in museums) and between „subjective“ and „objective“. This time Štěpánka added a series of postcards to her collection which refer to the most common type of souvenirs kept not only in museums. It is by no means a standard selection of a few high-lights, but they are individual scans documenting the entire collection. Therefore the visitor does not take home a souvenir – a serial product – but an unreplacable product, an original, genuine piece.
Markéta VuTru deals with cultural and art motives and references which she has recently rendered through the medium of acurately composed photographic still-lifes. In the Gallery Jelení she displays three photographs of white „classical“ vases (in reality contemporary vases by an unknown designer) which she painted with a black antikvity design. The design shows a Greek female on a sofa with a PC. The last vase is painted with a web site with hidden advice how to keep flowers in a vase last long: www.rd.com/slideshows/how-to-make-flowers-last-longer . Sempre viva. It is not accidental that these flowers are called imortelles.
The attempt to rip the ephemeral out of its ephemerality and at the same time to posses it, to rip it out of its natural environment. This act of „violence“could be also metaphorically transposed to the generally „deadening“ nature of museums. This is the price that an object pays for its musealisation. The Tasmanian tiger in the museum is only a stuffed animal and the flower is dry.
The „museum-like“ exhibiton in this independent gallery has been supported from the very beginning by the National Museum which enabled the artists to study its collections, document its exhibits and borrow its show-cases. The relationship of the exhibiton and the museum as an institution is not a critical one but rather an inspirational and dialogic one.

Tereza Jindrová

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