photo: Matěj Smetana, Lýdia Pribišová
The exhibition Amnesia, in which five authors from various countries are participating, takes as a theme the issue of human memory on both an individual level and in terms of collective memory. Memory is not an isolated human quality, but a component of our thinking.
In their works, the authors focus attention on various aspects of a fundamental human ability – ‘to remember’ or ‘not to remember’, viewed from the perspective of its normative prerequisites of recording, accumulating, selecting, displacing and forgetting as a game with the non-existing, unclear, undefined dematerialized feeling of remembering or forgetting. Memory is characterized by multiplicity. Every residue, whether we register it as a sensory perception or something that arises in the world of our imagination, leaves behind a trace that can later be eradicated. Thoughts and feelings, insights and sensory perceptions, as well as the connections between them and the knowledge already recorded in our brains, operate together. Amnesia is a circumscribed loss of memory traces. In medicinal terms, amnesia is called pathological memory impairment, characterized by partial or complete loss of memory while the other mental functions remain healthy. The artists examine the issue from various perspectives.
Viktor Kótun, by means of his happening I'm Reading a Burning Newspaper (2011-2013), considers the words of the American journalist H. L. Mencken, who claimed that "A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier." Burning the newspaper is a reconstruction of a 1970 happening initiated by the Hungarian artist Endre Tót, a representative of the Fluxus movement. The position of the media is ambivalent: it informs, but also obfuscates, manipulating information and consciously letting some be forgotten. Viktor Kótun draws attention to this "social amnesia" by reading a burning newspaper.
Navid Nuur presents his ‘visual poem’ – the declaration Vision Needs No Eyes to See (2004-2014), moulded into the plaster on the gallery wall.
Monika Pavlechová prepared for the exhibition the installation Family Album (2014), which is based on an extensive multi-generational collection of family photos. Individual memory is projected through family photos that constitute an emotional memory archive preserving no longer existent images. Through it, we can remember them. The collection of family photo materials is an exceptionally sensitive, delicate personal article, which was preserved in the family, is built consistently and concentratedly and passed on from generation to generation.
Matej Smetana examines the theme detachedly, with his particular brand of humour. In the animated film The Last painters on Earth (2012), he captures the short stories of four people shortly before the end of the World. In all cases they carry out acts that can be labelled in some sense as painting. In addition to the film, he also exhibits a digital drawing on paper called The Dust and the Dropper (2013).
Ino Varvariti focused during a six-month stay in Vienna in 2007 on mapping commemorative plaques sited in various locations of the Austrian capital. She gets to know the city and its history through the people commemorated in the memorials. The commemorative plaques cast light on a certain part of history, a specific view of it, while the other side remains unrecognized in the background. By means of the plaques, individual lives come within the scope of the collective memory of the city. The artist exhibits database records, maps, drawings and collages from her project Research (2008-2009).