Martin Mazanec: In most of your projects you work with authentic art material, existing artworks, and interventions into gallery operation, literally with a construction of exhibitions as a whole. Can one speak of your effort to name or convey an authentic situation, often in the form documentation or spontaneity?
Petr Krátký: Indeed, most of my projects work with authentic art material, existing artworks, and interventions into gallery operation, or literally with a construction of exhibitions as a whole. One can speak then of my effort to name or convey an authentic situation, often in the form documentation or spontaneity.
Is it especially video as a recording tool that provides you above all with an option of spontaneous, even documentary communication with your surroundings? When I was starting to work with video, I was interested mainly in its practical properties: The speed of recording, editing and archiving. But I came to realize slowly, that it is just like any other medium, where you need to master the technology of all the consequent steps if you want to reach a first-rate outcome. Therefore, I consider video to be, above all, one of the work tools. The way it is used is a different thing; articulating the language this format uses to communicate. If the nature of the work relies on video as a form of recording of my doings or performance, it is necessarily perceived as documentation, that is, also as a means of my communication with environment, to give you an exact answer.
In most of your videos you play the main person involved or at least the guide. Do you consider this form of communication the easiest way how to comment on gallery operation or, more generally, art world? You said correctly that I play as “the guide or the main person involved” in most of my videos. It concerns possible perspectives that used to prevail in my projects. I always try to find a suitable form that would fit the topic and the message the best. I can give an example, The Limits of Interpretation (2013), a work that relies heavily on my presence in front of the camera only because the shape of the project calls for it. I refer to the format of a video profile, in which I swap roles with concrete artists so that they find themselves operating the camera while I describe their work to my best judgment. I presume here, above all, a viewer’s experience with a document, profile, where nobody would notice this interchange exactly because it sticks to the stylistic structure and everything looks authentic.
What were the reactions of the few Hungarian artists when you have asked them whether you could shoot their portraits in their studios with “only” you appearing in the role of the artist? Since I am an author myself, I can easily and quite exactly imagine how I myself would react in that very situation. What would convince me or what would I fear. It is important to mention that at that time I was an artist-in-residence in a Hungarian art institution that provided credibility to the project in question and to me. Therefore, I didn’t ask as a foreigner who wants to broaden the spectrum of his own portfolio by a misappropriation of their work. The whole working process was very enriching and not just for me – who came to realize that it doesn’t matter whether he speaks about the work of matured abstract painter or young sculptor, he never extricates himself from the principles of his own thinking – but also for them. We stay in touch ever since and I develop the project at other occasions, mostly as an exhibition as a whole or interventions using real artists’ artifacts together with video profiles.
Do you see video as the connecting link to the interpretation of various media or forms of their presentation? I have always been fascinated with all kinds of media and their formal criteria, limitations and givens that have become so often subject of my work, where they meet, complete each other or contradict themselves. As an example of such approach I would mention videos like Loop (2011), Pentaton (2011), and I’m Because My Father Had Orgasm (2012), all of them thematizing the looping of videos one finds usually in galleries or videos like Follow (2010), Intermedia Confrontation (2010), and Swing (2011) dealing with the fact that film is composed of static images.
Once in a while you return to painting. What is your relationship to it? I am not sure if it is correct to speak about a “return to painting”. I have always been interested in the image as such, where brushwork on canvas we usually consider “the painting” can be as important as the frame holding the stretched canvas. Therefore, I am interested in painting mostly as an object, as a system of complementary parts with their own functions that can be creatively worked with or changed. In principle, what interests me about painting is the same thing that interests me about video, sculpture or an exhibition, which I consider to be a sovereign art medium, as well.