Reports

Entering the exhibition, the viewer might be taken by surprise. The room is divided into two plans, brimming with a situation that had already happened before he even entered. The whole space of the exhibition constitutes a monument, which is not referring to any historical event or anything else, though – merely to itself and the principle of its genesis. It is a silent witness of a process that took place long ago. The form is not falling to pieces, it does not represent the ruins of the times long gone; on the contrary, it may even make us shiver as we perceive its autonomy and indifference to the outer world. The entire exhibition is a stage where we can, step by step, reconstruct the “crime scene”. The proportion of mass and shapes makes us experience different emotion with every movement we make and with every look we find new connections; we can see not only the stage itself but also the backstage of the “performance”. Let us get back to the beginning, though. Entering the exhibition, the viewer might be taken by surprise, or perhaps even be bewildered. We cannot see the installation’s mechanisms; the stiffness of the colour mass pushed through provokes our imagination. The picture on the wall is not a mere decoration of the space – it literally merged into the wall, which becomes a necessary condition for the picture to be created. Had the wall not been built, the picture would not exist either. Similarly, certain physical distance is needed for the picture to come into existence. Circumstances of the installation’s creation bear a striking resemblance to conditions necessary for any motion picture projected in galleries or cinemas (despite all the daylight and artificial lighting to which the monument is exposed). Matěj Al-Ali (*1985), although an artist with a strong sculptural intuition, avoids creating aesthetised artifacts and strives to achieve the seemingly impossible – to freeze the moment between “here and now” and eternity. However, he does not use photography, which we tend to associate with capturing unique moments. Paradoxically, he is attracted to ambivalent moving (motion) picture, which evokes our rather stereotypical image of linearity of time. For this solo exhibition in etc. gallery, Matěj prepared an installation which in many ways follows his dissertation dealing with capturing seemingly nonsensical mechanisms and constructions in never-ending video loops. At that time, his interest shifted from exploring social interaction with the audience and his own physicality to depicting (“materializing”) something so hard to capture – processes and principles occurring all around us. That is where he finds emotional profundity we usually associate with scientists’ enthusiasm; DNA double helix and the idea of Sun as a huge body formed mostly by nuclear fusions of hydrogen nuclei into helium can amaze us if we only realize the stark simplicity of principles which affect our lives. The viewer is confronted with a work, which might remind us for example of Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely’s kinetic sculptures. Such a comparison is inadequate, though; Matěj does not strive for glorification of or warning against mechanization of the world, but for simple contact with something rather primitive in the viewer’s mind, with his body and his memory.

Martin Prudil

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