photo: Lucia Nimcová, Martin Kollár
Exhibition of Lucia Nimcová and Martin Kollár presents their newest projects, both developed in Ukraine, where they spent a long time. Both of them are contemplating about the emergency in this country, not directly, but through their inhabitants and their behavior, trying to live a common life. The war is invisible, but constantly present also in their art works. This presence by absence is what causes goose bumps. Martin Kollár and Lucia Nimcová both come from Slovakia, the border country with Ukraine, therefore its political situation is naturally an important issue. Artists, with a sense of humor and complicity, are showing the lust for life in Ukraine, various ways how the people face reality. Childhood spent behind the Iron Curtain and cultural closeness helps the artists understand the actual status quo more profoundly. These experiences echoed in their way of thinking, creativity and aesthetics of their works.
Lucia Nimcová is an artist with a deep interest in the complex, paradoxical, tragic, humorousand sometimes absurd set of social and cultural relations that form everyday “reality” in EasternEurope. Her work in photography, video, performance and sound attempts to capture both official and private experiences within groups and communities. She is going to present herongoing project Kroniky, a collaboration with sound artist Sholto Dobie.
Since 2014, the artists have gathered an archive of photography, video and sound recordings, throughout western Ukraine. As opposed to traditional documentary practices, the artists prefer to describe their work as a folk opera; a collection of songs, stories, music, performance and field recordings, existing somewhere between an ethnographic document and musical theatre.Throughout history, traditional music and culture has been appropriated and misrepresented; presently in Ukraine, patriotic songs play an important role in fueling a populist romantic nationalism. In contrast, the artists seek to capture official, private and hidden realities within communities that are excluded from the main historical narrative of the region. Their main interests are those songs which describe in tragic, brutal and comic ways domestic abuse, murder, conflict, sex, love and hate. The artists want to show that the alternative folklore of the region: hard mountain rap, vintage feminism and filthy Carpathian hip hop, is still alive and relevant, before it’s last inheritors disappear.
Nimcová and Dobie’s ongoing work is a self-proclaimed improvisation. They move freely between various locations and integrate themselves in kitchens, fields, roadsides, weddings, funerals and public events. These places become stages, in which everyday life and theatre paradoxically come together. In this way, their work embraces the inconsistencies and complexities inherent in any ethnographic document. It is a contemporary chronicle with an inclusive approach to material, incorporating industrial sounds, lullabies, military funerals and hen parties.
Khroniky follows on from Nimcová’s previous work on both the female experience in EasternEurope and contested histories of her native Rusyn minority. This work similarly seeks to show how the past influences the present. In the end, it is an attempt to navigate a polyphony of subjectivities, in the context of Ukraine's unstable situation currently and historically.
Lucia Nimcová was born in 1977. Lives and works in Brussels and Humenné. Nimcová studied at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Recently, she has exhibited her works at the Prague Biennale; Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow; Viafarini, Milan; Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts and Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Awards include; the Images Vevey Photography Prize (Switzerland), ECB Photography Award (Germany), Oskar Cepan Award (Slovakia), Leica Oskar Barnack Award (Germany) and Baume and Mercier Award (Italy). Her works have been acquired by Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MUDAM Luxembourg, Slovak National Gallery and private collectors worldwide.
Sholto Dobie is an artist working with music, sound, performance and events. Born in 1991 Edinburgh (UK) and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Exhibited at Platform: Camden Art Centre (London). Curated Muckle Mouth, Peckham Liberal Club (London). Recipient of the Sue Jamieson Memorial Award and Dolbey Travel Scholarship which made this project possible.
Martin Kollár is presenting the site specific installed photos from Ukrainian prisons (2015) which are a part of his ongoing large project Provisional Arrangements. The pictures were taken in Odesa and Kiev. For Martin Kollár, the Ukrainian prisons, without the people this time, are substitutional elements which represent the temporary, uncertain, clandestine status, slowly becoming to be its opposite – the permanent constellation. Life has been filled with negotiations of a number of temporary situations and solutions. In a certain sense, the idea of Provisional Arrangements is a manifest of the generation of contemporary young and middle-aged people. Temporariness is present all around us, it is more of a status quo, a constant fight against endless variations of disintegration and the void left behind the abandoned old dogmas. We find ourselves in a complex world without a sense of permanence and certainty. We surround ourselves with temporary friends, we have temporary relationships, we have a temporary tooth replacement and we prefer temporary residencies to permanent address. Provisional Arrangements is a project dealing with situations which contain an element of uncertainty and mystery. It is a photographic record/portrayal capturing the disintegration of permanence into temporary and provisional moments in time and space.
Through these photos presented, on the one hand, the author is dealing with how to show the prison in innovative, non-cliché way, but on the other hand, he is working, in several layers, with the context of non-capturable instability. The photos transmit a claustrophobic, closed micro world, from which one can hardly escape. Martin here eliminates any possible information and partial signs such as location or presence of people and he only concentrates on the engram of elementary signs. Every single photo offers a new interpretation of the previous one, creating a chain, opening another way of free associations and shifts. In the meantime, the prison here serves as a metaphor of the impasse situation of today’s Ukraine.
Ukraine is not the first country in war alert where Martin Kollár used to work. Between November 2009 and January 2011 he spent extended periods of time working and living in the most contentious geographical zone of modern history, in Israel. His Field Trip established an opaque representation of the life and landscape of Israel.
Martin Kollár was born in Žilina, Czechoslovakia (now Slovak Republic). He studied at the Academy of Performing Arts Bratislava and has been working as a freelance photographer and cinematographer since his graduation. He received several grants and awards, including the Prix Elysee and Oskar Barnack Award. His work was exhibited across the world, including Martin Gropius Bau Berlin, Museum of Contemporary art in Tel Aviv, Maison Europeen de la Photography Paris, France, Rencontres d’ Arles in France, MOCA Shanghai China, Guandong Museum of Art in China. He has published tree photography books, Nothing Special (2008), Cahier (2011) and Field trip (2013).