Czech and Slovak Republics
The Czech and Slovakian Pavilion originated in 1920, and was used as the pavilion for former Czechoslovakia until the peaceable split during the Velvet Revolution in 1993-which divided the country into two separate countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
This year’s exhibition is curated by Marek Pokorny, and features the work of Slovakian artist Petra Feriancova and Czech artist Zbynek Baladran. The show is called, Still the Same Place, and is about ephemera and archive, present and past, memory and dreams and the institutionalized idea versus personal experience.
The artists were selected by the Slovak National Gallery committee. There were 20 participants in the trials, and Feriancova and Baladran were the top pick.
A little timeline of history on the Czech Republic:
1918-Czechoslovakia proclaimed Independence from the Austro-Hungarian empire.
1939-Nazi Germany occupies Czechoslovakia.
1948-Czechoslovakia becomes a communist country._
1960-Soviet invasion, Czechoslovakia becomes a Socialist republic.
1989-Fall of communism.
1993-Velvet Revolution, Czech Republic and Slovakia become their own separate countries.
Today, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are Unitary parliamentary Republics. The Czech Republic is a center-right coalition led by the Civic Democratic Party. The president is Milos Zeman. Slovakia is led by the center-left Smer party. The president of Slovakia is Ivan Gasparovic.
Something to note about the way of societal conditions in both Czech Republic and Slovakia are the way the Roma population are treated. Native Czechs and Slovaks are unaccepting of the transient nature of the Roma. In affect, there is a great deal of racial discrimination in access to education, health care and housing.
Still the Same Place
The theme of the show is memory and cognition. Petra Feriancova put together a catalogued archive of memorabilia from herself and her family. While Zbynek Baladran put together a film out of found footage and sound. Alltogether, both of their works are comprised with different parts pulled together to make something new. Both question the idea of memory within their work, and with the use of these varied pieces.
Feriancova’s cataloguing is split into two parts. The first is called An Order of Things I, and consists of photographs, or offset prints, 325x230mm. These photographs contain images of pigeons, beaches and shells. All images that could be linked to Venice but actually have nothing to do with Venice, such as her photograph titled Almost Venice. In effect, the brain is jumbled and confused making memories out of something else.
The other part of her cataloguing process is titled An Order of Things II, and consists of different objects which she has either found or come from her families collections. These consist of masks, shells, birds, National Geographics and other misc. items. They are carefully placed in glass cases, just like one would see in a museum full of precious objects. Taking memorabilia and trying to classify it, seems a bit absurd and that is her point. What happens between the time of the memory being made and the actual documentation and pinpoint nostalgia later on?
Zbynek Baladran created a film that compliments Feriancova’s work beautifully. It is an amalgamation of footage which he found, as well as some footage from Feriancova’s collection. Intermixed with the footage, Baladran speaks about the essence of matter and time over the top of somewhat ominous found sounds and music. It is truly brilliant the way he was able to juxtapose the two into a trippy, cognitive film that truly makes the viewer sit and think.
The video is titled, Liberation or, alternitavely; Promethean conquest. The Doctirne of Sediments. What of Matter? What Direction is Matter Taking? Anarchive. The Song of the Hoe. Communism of the Senses.
Baladran describes the film as a “Psychadelic Meditation”, which sums up to quality of the film perfectly.
Petra Feriancova was born in Bratislava, Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia in 1977. Feriancova has an extended art education. She attended the Bratislava Institute of Art and Design between 1991-1995. After which she studied at AFAD Academy of Fine Art and Design, in Bratislava, 1996. Between 1998-2002, she recieved her MA at L’Accademia delle Belle Arti, Rome, Italy. After 2009, she studied digital arts at AFAD Academy of Fine Arts and Design.
In 2010, Feriancova won the OSKAR CEPAN AWARD.
Feriancova has exhibited a great deal around the world. Amongst these are big cities such as New York, Berlin, London, Brno, Bratislava and Rome.
Her work in Still the Same Place, at the Venice Biennale, is focused around archive and memory. She has taken two approaches to cataloguing and archiving her work in the gallery.
Her work consists of photographs and memorabilia that she and her family have collected over the years. The content of the archives has the essence of memory of Venice-but in reality they actually have nothing to do with Venice. This is her way of showing how the memory and what is left of it are two completely different things sometimes. It is difficult to know how to connect memorabilia from the past.
Zbynek Baladran was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1973. He is a curator, artist, art historian and author. He studied art history at Charles University in Prague, between 1992-1996. He also studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts in the studio of visual communication from 1997-2003.
Baladran has exhibited extensively throughput Europe. Some of the major cities his work has been featured in are Tokyo, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Moscow, New York, Dublin, Barcelona, Glasgow, Lyon, Athens, Stockholm and Berlin.
Baladran’s work consists of film and photography, amongst other mediums. Through his work, he creates links between the past and the present. The collective unconscious plays an important role in his work. Baladran’s films are dreamlike and perceptive of different time and space dimensions at the same time. He uses propaganda, found footage, and strange sound effects to create a different world in his film viewing experience.
This is a fascinating and successful gallery exhibition. I feel that one has to dig deep in order to really figure out what the artists are trying to get across. The combination of found object, video, film and found footage are extremely effective in the observation of memory.
Feriancova was trying to put together the pieces of memory and actual experience. By using images and objects that make one think of Venice, she was making memories around Venice. But in actuality, they were memories from her family and the past-and didn’t really have anything to do with actual experience.
Feriancova’s process of cataloguing the different materials is meticulous and intelligent.
Baladran put together a wonderful film using found footage, as well as footage from Feriancova’s archives. His use of sound, and the concepts he talks about concerning dreams, memory and the make-up of our memories and existence is compelling.
Overall, I think these artists are equally matched in their talents as well as the motivations that drive their studio work. It is incredible to see how two people could come together on such an obscure and difficult topic, and be able to succeed in making a well-rounded body of work with a deep meaning.