Darina Alster (b. 1979) is a visual artist, performer, writer and educator whose favourite modes of expression include performance, spoken word, multimedia installation, and video. The central themes of her art work are time, identity, religion, and interpersonal and political relations. In her performances, she probes into areas beyond the borders of reality, and allows baffling, irrational phenomena intervene into conventional situations, thereby opening up space for messages conveyed by the unconscious. She likes to combine new media with archaic ones including astrology, different religious beliefs, and fairy tales.
At the current stage of her career, Darina Alster has focused on artistic approaches to pregnancy, birth and motherhood, trying to tackle this powerful theme in an unorthodox way: namely, transposing it onto the plane of a private mythology which she constructs on the grounds of her own experience of motherhood, juxtaposed to the contents of ancient myths, fertility cults and magic rituals (involving Venus, Isis, Cybele, Demeter, Lilith, Kali, Sophia, or Madonna). Most recently though, she has further expanded the scope of her interest in these lacteal themes, taking in ever more complex contextual settings. In conceiving her current exhibition at Galerie NoD, she was mindful of the venue´s specific experimental dimension, and chose to alternate diverse creative devices with a view to creating a suggestive environment where magically suggestive objects, photographs and videos interact with works by other artists which ultimately become part and parcel of an intricately designed whole.
The works on display here often stand in stark contrast to one another, conveying messages of alternate feelings of security and its absence, or elsewhere embodying the interface between good and evil, or between light and darkness. Darina Alster is attracted to the world of religious mysticism, its various types and degrees, as well as the distinctions between different types of believers. She works with elements of allegory and mystification, reluctant to shape her messages in an excessively explicit and straightforward manner, instead offering the spectators sufficient room for unleashing their own imagination. Indeed, different mystical forms employ their own peculiar codes some of which may ultimately remain unrevealed, with their secrets there to stay. It is then up to each individual how to perceive a particular symbol, and what to read into it. Darina Alster is concerned with the theme of faith, whose content may perhaps seem to have been reduced to a tool in the struggle for power but which on the other hand still remains the sole anchor in an individual´s endeavour to shed doubts.
Another concern of crucial relevance to this artist is exploration of masculine and feminine approaches to various problems. There, she devotes a good deal of attention to the aspects of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, as conditions which exert an overwhelming influence on female patterns of thought and emotionality. She occasionally lets into play marginal or low aesthetics, and even devices belonging in the sphere of romantically hued kitsch. In tackling her motifs, she employs various media as well as working at different scales, an approach conjuring up within the exhibition space an installation that is by design outwardly bizarre yet at the same time conforms to certain precisely defined rules. Essentially, it offers an instance of unity in diversity, producing at once harmony and tension, with the artist posing questions to which, however, she finds no unequivocal answers.

Jiří Machalický

The exhibition at Galerie NoD is entitled Modern-age Forms of Spellbinding Reality. It presents a vision wherein Anima projects her own body into the gallery space. She spellbinds the gallery by recurrent images of femininity. She captures the woman embedded in man, the vulnerability of a child, the various aspects of love and hate set in contrast to the ubiquity of death. Images recur and intertwine to the rhythm of the unconscious. The essence is the spectator´s personal experience. An insight faster than an idea. The gallery space pulsates, becoming a body in its own right.
The core of the exhibition is a video-altar that is dedicated to the relationship between man and woman. The delicate crux of the Goddess is relationship. A pulsation between the opposites. The body of the Goddess is spread across space. The series of breastfeeding captures the intimacy between mother and child, which is set in contrast to battles with the demon of the soul. In the exhibition space grows a lawn which relates to the vital growth of Mother Earth. Each and every leaf of grass emits the melody of growth. Life is a single intricate harmony.
Heartbeat resonates in the gallery doorwings. The mantra of the heart conquering death and composed of rhythms of multitudes of human beings, their heartbeats, fast and slow alike, before the ravages of time gnaw their bodies down to the bone and their skeletons turn to dust.
This installation should engender tension, it should smell of musk and frankincense, it should both irritate and enthrall, be admired and misunderstood, it should be pilloried in the same way as were, are and will be the living and defunct gods in the inner mind of each and every human being.

Darina Alster

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