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Report on the Reconstruction of the Past: Barbora Klimova and Eva Kotatkova

Exhibition presenting two art missions by Barbora Klimova and Eva Kotatkova. Organized in conjunction with the exhbition "Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module" at New Museum. January 28 - March 11, 2014


Opening reception: Tuesday, January 28, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Curated by Vit Havranek

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The exhibition in the Czech Center Gallery is taking place in parallel with the Report on the Construction of a Spaceship, a show of ten years’ activity of the tranzit.org network presented in the New Museum HUB, NYC. It jointly features two long-term collaborations between tranzit Czech Republic, Eva Koťátková and Barbora Klímová.

The vanishing point of the works of the two female artists presented here is a subjective enunciation concerning the traces of the recent past. Each of them creates a typical body of interpretation of historical images, past events and conceptual references. It can be observed that the use of historical or archival traces in former East European artistic practices is motivated by urgency to reconsider newly established post-communist identities. In the region that has undergone substantial and complex political, social and economic changes in the last twenty years, the legitimization of these changes came from two sides. On the one hand the changes were motivated by the engagement of democratic principles and integration in the system of global capitalism. On the other hand this re-entry into the world of democracy took place in the context of particular historical and national narratives that were often selective and suppressive in regard to the recent past and current realities. Twenty years after the “Fall of the Berlin Wall” a critique and reconsideration of the fictive historical narratives remains an urgent issue that is not actually a “historical” one, but rather one of current options for imagining future steps.

Organized in conjunction with the exhbition "Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module" at New Museum, on view January 22 - April 13.

Eva Koťátková, Prague
born in Prague, 1982
Koťátková’s new video work is an imaginative reaction and artistic re-interpretation of the collection of rules and records of mental hospitals, crèches, hospitals for the handicapped, cemeteries and other social institutions operating under the authoritative regime in the 1970s and 1980s, which the artist has been compiling for three years. This research led to the film, but will take also the form of an artist’s book that is currently under preparation and will be published by tranzit.cz and JRP Ringier during the Spring of 2014.
Eva Kot’áková’s practice includes works on paper, performances, sculptures and installations. She uses these forms to examine how social norms and propaganda can restrict the individual. Kot’áková’s installations, which she has called “archives” or “databases,” often present a variety of found and altered objects alongside textual or recorded stories. For example, in As I Loom in the “The Encyclopedic Palace,” at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), she created a room-sized installation that resembles a table-top model broken up into segments with metal armatures, paper cutouts of fragmented body segments (in various states of abstraction), drawings and images. Like previous works that alluded to hidden trauma, in this “archive” Kot’áková represents the perspectives of psychiatric patients or children under medical examination for communication issues in a collection of visions of anxieties, utopias and dreams.

The recurring symbol of the cage appeared in As I Loom. Earlier works constructed by Kot’átková reconfigured or manipulated the body’s movement in space via furniture adapted into cages, although the final form of the work was often a photograph or video rather than an installation. One series, Sit up Straight (2008), documents students restrained by especially constrictive school desks designed by Kot’átková to keep them rigidly erect while either reading or looking straight ahead. In Theater of Speaking Objects (Becoming Objects) (2013), a performative installation at Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, a combination of objects and audio recordings in numerous languages recollect stories of communication difficulties—again, Kot’áková uses objects to tell fragmented, untold stories.

Barbora Klímová, Brno
born in Brno, 1977
Barbora Klímová’s video-work has the appearance of a documentary in which the artist acts as an alternative art historian. She shows and comments on peripheral events, forgotten personalities and communities of artists who disappeared for various reasons from memory as well as from history. In her video one can see a whole range of performances and documentation from the 1970s to 90s featuring Vladimír Ambroz, Pavel Büchler, Josef Daněk & Blahoslav Rozbořil, Vladimír Havlík, Marie Kratochvílová, J. H. Kocman, Marian Palla, Jiří Valoch, Petr Váša and many others.

Barbora Klímová is an artist who takes a critical stance towards the aura of authorship and the principle of exclusivity of art in relation to other disciplines. Her approach occupies the space between archeology, history and the reconstruction and re-interpretation of civil and cultural events. In her protracted works or entirely fleeting gestures, she brings to life forgotten events that have occurred (Personal Events, 2008). Her research leading to the publication of the book My jsme tím projektem žili. Stavba rodinného domu v období normalizace. [We Lived Through the Project. Construction of a Family House During the Normalization Era] overturns the usual perspective on the history of the modernist architecture that is appreciated in the city. The artist created an extensive archive of photographs, plans and interviews charting the villas during the 1969-1989 period of "normalization", not primarily in terms ofarchitectonic form, but from a social perspective. She was interested in how the "bourgeois" form of the villa related to social housing, how the state regulated and commented on the construction of private villas and how the construction of a family house could at all be technically realized during that period.
In an extensive research project, “Together. Artists and Communities in Moravia in the 1970s and 80s”, which she began in recent years, Klímová actively and creatively uncovers forgotten and undocumented events of the recent past. She attempts to find parallels to the academic model of writing history. The basis of this work consists of mapping private archives and collaboration with authors who were active in the 70s-90s. She selects, both subjectively and in communication with the authors, parts of their personal archives, which in many cases cannot be clearly identified as definitive artifacts (correspondence, personal notes, drafts, documentary photographs etc.). The selected artists are usually indispensable to a particular environment, group of people or community. Klímová presents their work in exhibitions and publications. In her “Together. Artists and Communities in Moravia in the 1970s and 80sproject, Barbora Klímová focuses on the work of: Josef Daněk & Blahoslav Rozbořil, Vladimír Havlík, J. H. Kocman, Marian Palla, Miroslav Sony Halas, Jiří Valoch and others.


Eva Koťátková:
Stará, Markéta. “The biennial for the sake of the biennial…? Fourth Prague Biennial 2009.” After all (August 13, 2009).


Barbora Klímová:
Sven Spieker (rec.), Vladimir Havlík and Barbora Klímová, "Yesterday", Parallel Gallery, Prague, June 4, 2009 - June 28, 2009, ART Margins, http://www.artmargins.com/index.php/exhibition/455-vladimir-havlik-and-barbora-klimova-qyesterdayq-parallel-gallery-prague-june-4-2009-june-28-2009-exhib-review, 14. 7. 2009.
Krist Gruijthuijsen, Barbora Klímová, MetropolisM, č. 4, 2008, s. 45– 46.


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Curator of the exhibition
Vít Havránek is a curator and theoretician based in Prague. Since 2002 he has been working as a director of the initiative for contemporary art tranzit (www.tranzit.org).
He curated and co-curated exhibitions amongst which are: Adaptation, Steirischer Herbst; Manifesta 8, Spain; Monument to Transformation, Centro Monthermoso; City Gallery Prague; tranzit workshops, Bratislava; tranzit – Auditorium, Stage, Backstage, Frankfurter Kunstverein; I, Secession Wien; Jiri Kovanda, Brno; Otto Piene, City Gallery Prague; action, word, movement, space, City Gallery Prague and others. 
Edited and co-edited books and catalogues Atlas to Transformation; Autobiographies; The Need to Document, Lanterna Magika; action, word, movement, space,  and has written for contemporary books, catalogues (Promesses du passé, Centre Pompidou, Voids: A Retrospective,JRP Ringier), art magazines (Umělec, Springerin, Flash Art, Manifesta Journal, trouble and others).
Selected writings

1) Tranzit is a network of autonomous but interconnected organizations based in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Tranzit organizations actively collaborate with artists and other organizations and between tranzit offices to produce art historical and curatorial research, exhibitions and new commissions. The works included in the exhibition forms a loose and actively debated retrospective of their ten-year institutional history, providing a look at the position of art and geography of institutional collaborations in and from Eastern Europe through the lens of their organization.