Gavulova, Lucia: Pythagoras Descent 2009


Petra Feriancova’s exhibition Pythagoras’ Descent is marked – characteristically – by a certain radicalness, demonstrated in various aspects. This lies partly in the strongly subjective or even intimate nature of its subject, in its production, and finally in wide range of affect and intellectual engagement offered therein. Pythagoras’ Descent is a work of art encoded in the title of the exhibition and the concept arises from the depth of the artist’s personal experience. There is one aspect of Pythagoras' phenomenon which is both particularly attractive and remarkable to the artist. It is the possibility of katabasis – a descent to Hades and later a return to society – of Pythagoras as a figure in the context of ancient history. Descent, descensus in latin, is a denotation of relegation of initiatory death, the act of disappearance, cutting adrift society and subsequent return to it, or re –apparition and epiphany. According to Mircea Eliade, all the legends linked to the descent to Hades mention certain rituals and refer to initiatory death, an experience necessary for a new mode (way) of existence. HIT Gallery is a space situated underground and the act of stepping down to its interior evokes Pythagoras' descent to Hades. In this way the title of the exhibition is key to the work, which only takes form in the physical engaged presence of each visitor and in her/his direct confrontation with the gallery space, with the descent to its depths and a subsequent ‘egress back to the world’, in the physical departure from the underground gallery space. The projection work 2/3 presents a dialogue of two blind Graeae, striving for vision (three ancient sisters, the Gorgonas, shared one eye and one tooth since their birth). The viewer becomes to a third participant of the conversation through reading the dialogue screened by the projection. It is also strongly suggested by the form of the installation. Necessarily, there is a reference to the form of antique dialogue, which is simple, modest, and even harsh in character. Their language is appropriately still and monothematic and could both treat of matters supposing an emotional collapse or of absolutely banal things. There is a confrontation with author's interest in language and word as a source of verbal communication. In 2/3, she works with a form of simple sentences of direct speech free from any residues of articulation or accent to one or another participant of the dialogue. Without differentiation or classification, no space remains for emotions. Finally, the viewer is confronted with silent ‘appeals’, free from everything, including sound – the most natural aspect of speech. The viewer closes the dialogue as a third part of it. Even though Pythagoras' Descent could be considered as scarcely interpretable and complex artwork, the most dominant trait is a strong relativization or manipulation of inveterate ways of reading and standardized points of view, primarily transformed into a formal game and its subsequent disruption. Feriancova, within the scope of what we know about her work, continues to work with form and format, with subjective reflection of our inner sensation and personal feelings, with their conceptualization in the form of visual output. This is produced almost exclusively, to the format of A4 (either vertical or horizontal). Both the new and old situations are missing text? theme of time and its various components: for instance, compression of time in the scope of space, or “timelessness”, creating situations when the proportion of time gets lost, diminishes, becomes irrelevant or yields to various forms of manipulation of the author. There also comes a new position – a shift to themes originated in antiquity, related to the main theme of the exhibition, that of katabasis – the descent into Hades, exclusion from society and isolation from surroundings. Petra Feriancova interprets these subjects with restraint and without any unnecessary pathos, coming to the conclusion that the human subject is not a measure of things related to this world, and fundamentally is not a measure of anything natural to her/him.