Profiles

Gained significant attention in 2001 with her collection of Obytné obrazy – Habitable Images. One could say that this project foreshadows two important aspects of her work: communicativeness (in this case her accommodating approach to viewers, whom the images beckon to take advantage of their function and a sense of cross-specialisation that is very specific to the artist.

In the case of Obytné obrazy we speak of images that reflect the exchange between the field of creative art and design, and architecture as well. Ms. Grosseova’s work with the concept of „image“ as a hybrid form on the boundary between the traditional understanding of the hung picture, installation and object, all of which happen via interaction with the viewer – whose settling in (domestification) make them a part of the work. Obytné obrazy remain autonomous objects – analogical. The later project Obytné sochy (2003) brings things a step forward: in contrast to Obytné obrazy it no longer holds to an aesthetic typical for architecture and design. Rather the project recycles waste found on the streets of New York. By mixing various common objects, part of a fan for example, the rollers on an office chair, or a satellite antenna, it reflects the social reality of the city as a melting pot.

The local specificness and method of social inquiry in a concrete cultural-historical context begin to be found increasingly in more detail in Isabela Grosseova’s works. In her further projects she thought them out in the scope of concrete spaces. One example is the Autumn Plot project, which includes an ironically-conceived Chinese salon at the Italian castle, Racconigi, as part of the group exhibit, Gemine Muse. It puts a contrast on the historic, ideal image of China as a cultural superpower and its contemporary reality represented by the mass production of mass goods.

She chooses a different approach to interior work in the project, Zašlá sláva rozmanitosti (2004) – Faded Glory of Diversity, which was presented as part of the exhibit Finalists in the Brno Township’s Art House (Dům umění). Grosseova used her knowledge of how contemporary craftsmanship functions in the field of architecture. In this case we are speaking about a sort of critical reaction to the fact that currently craftsmanship is dying out, because most construction repairs and implementation take place without the intervention of human hands.

Her project Systems You Have Seen (2004), consisting of carpets made up of ordinary, pre-fab materials, also takes a critical view on the standardisation of building materials.

Since 2005 Grosseova has begun to work intensively with Jesper Alvaer. In this she takes a detour from the constrictions of concrete spaces and the metaphoricalness articulated by artistic and material speech. She moves to favour social surveys that come about via communications with various social groups, which place emphasis on the principle of direct participation. In 2005 she worked with Alvaer on the project, Non-hereditary Memory II. The project commented on a trip to the Vietnamese flea market, SAPA, in Prague’s Libuše quarter.

Isabela Grosseova’s interest in architecture and urbanism as a moral and political theme, the relationship between society and environment, and its subsequent impact on residents‘ existence – these are all important motifs in the project, Vlastní pohled (Own View), that she put together in the town of Telč in co-operation with Jesper Alvaer. The project’s objective was to support the dissemination of information on the prepared reconstruction of the area around the school grounds by making a survey among town residents. Cameras were distributed among participants, town residents, allowing them to take pictures giving the vantage points from their homes. The resulting photos were later compiled into an exhibit.

An engaging and investigative survey in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Egypt is a joint, long-term project put together by Grosseova and Alvaer called Transkultura (2006). The resulting installation was developed in two parallel viewing plans. It showed in one instance a collection of objects that were a sort of personification of the various professions of the residents of the various Arab towns visited. In the second instance it made use of the documentary and photographic and other museum treasures from Czech collections, which in this way were confronted by reality.

An important part of the event was the presence of five invited guests during its duration. These are people that Alvaer and Grosseova met during their trip and whom they invited, thanks to the Moravian Gallery, to the Czech Republic. This group would have otherwise not been able to travel here due to political and economic reasons (www.moravska-galerie.cz, www.figureandground.com).

The problematic status of the West’s political and economic reality vis-à-vis the post-colonial, developing world is also the subject of the project, Liberté, Igelité, Fraternité (2006), whose intent was to use flags sewn from omnipresent plastic bags made in China in order to confront the current approach of the rich Western world to its neighbours. The artist’s critical fascination with the inequalities of the world order, clearly proclaimed in a paraphrased refrain taken from La Marseillaise, evokes questions about the reversible nature of relations to nationalism, and also xenophobic stances and globalisation.

Mariana Serranová

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