Pokorny, Marek: Seclusion 2009

2009

Regardless of how ‘alternative’ or anachronistically ‘trash’ Petra Feriancová’s recent exhibition may seem to be in terms of its appearance – at a time when the Czech and Slovak art scenes have finally discovered the significance of form and precise presentation – her concept is richly structured, even orchestrated, one might say. Instead of a catalogue, the two works exhibited (Play: Shakespeare’s Hamlet in its entirety with sections of text removed, printed on 160 pages of ordinary A4 and fixed to the walls of the gallery in a row with no spacing in between; Pantheon: the family of Roman gods pictorially reconstructed in line with the profane contemporary tendency of giving exalted names to whomever and whatever) are accompanied by the artist’s own standalone publication-artwork entitled Film in which she recycles, samples and confronts photographs of her father in a confrontation of nostalgia with the purely visual, the potential of a story with anticlimax, continuation in sequence with backtracking, potential meaning with the bare fact of the existence of an image. If the works exhibited deal with generally-known ensembles of meaning pertaining to existing cultural standards, the publication exploits the intimate territory of meanings that are inaccessible to the viewer. While Play and Pantheon are works that will essentially cease to exist once the exhibition is over, or may on the contrary be re-executed at any time and recycled at any further opportunity, Film is definite with discrete material form, closed and at the same time semantically intransigent and inaccessible. Through absence (of direct speech), Play provides a conceptual framework for raising the question of how meaning develops in time and space while enabling, or in fact calling for, possible individual reconstruction of the original; Pantheon demonstrates the ultimate uncoupling of the original from its false restitution through the use of substitution and identical appellation. The title of the project - Seclusion (Klauzura) - may then be viewed not only as a guideline and framework, but perhaps also as a self-contained addition to, or analogon of, its individual parts. The thematic treatment of the integrity of the individual works and the originals they work with (a unique work of drama, the profaned hierarchy of the Roman gods, a family photo-album) has the character of a test or quiz, but could also be an expression of active isolation, forcing us to get to the nub of the matter. As a discrete entity, the exhibition is founded on the artist’s established themes - the poles of text and image, narrative and structure, appropriation and intervention, discovery and searching – but it also raises a question about the degree to which seclusion (personal or systemic) is voluntary and to what extent it is imposed. (review by Marek Pokorný)