Epimenides’ Lessons

 

2014, installation; 3 videos; wall-paper; 8 collages; 8 folders

Fotograf Gallery, Prague, 27. 6. – 25. 7. 2014, curated by Jiří Ptáček

camera Markéta Magidová

 

The work is dedicated to dead-ends of Leftist critical discourse vis-á-vis everyday life (or to dead-ends of everyday life vis-á-vis Leftist critical discourse).

 

exhibition view, photo Tomáš Hrůza

Statement

 

To begin, let’s clarify a couple of definitions:  a work of art is raw material for documentation. The gallery is the setting wherein the work is photographed.  An exhibition is an excuse to publish a catalogue.  A theoretical introduction is the template for its English translation. Text and illustrations are material for graphic layouts. The cover of the printed catalogue is the basis for photographs published online. The artist’s name is a tool for internet searches. The internet is the dominant means of production for neoliberal capitalism. Battles in the field of art run parallel, in capitalism, to political and social battles; as a show that distracts from the process where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The production of culture only legitimizes growth in barbarianism and I can’t do anything about it.

 

 

Transcription of the text from the video

 

Bad Conscience

Are we not struggling with bad conscience somewhat? No wonder. Not only is it impossible for us to change the course of this deformed world, but also we ourselves indirectly take part in its injustices – by what we eat, what we wear, what we use for work and what we do for fun.

It is probably best to let go of empty moralizing and instead focus on living our life with style. If nothing else, the world and life can allegedly be vindicated as aesthetic phenomena.

But what if we find one day that we do not have taste? That what we appreciate is just a serially manufactured fake? Now that could be a reason to give oneself a good talking-to.

 

Beauty

As we have heard so many times before, beauty will save the world. It is a promise of happiness. It is a semblance of reconciliation amongst the irreconcilable. But what is the beautiful?

Let us show this in an example. For instance the sight of a group of pine trees that presents itself to us every Monday around 7.30 am on our way to work is beautiful. This sight is nevertheless beautiful only if we mentally erase the destination of our journey, the surroundings and the time of day.

 

Dialectics

Thesis: There is a country whose inhabitants all agree it is impossible to live there.

Antithesis: With this conviction they get up in the morning, go to work, arrange their households, start their families. They try to make it fly past as quickly, as painlessly and with as little effort as possible.

Synthesis: It is impossible to live in that country.

 

History

According to the logic of grand historical narratives important events happen twice: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. According to the logic of private history we gradually become caricatures of ourselves.

The schema is the same, only details differ. Let us show this in the example of three generations of a single family. The old man basks in the attention of a camera, with gusto for the umpteenth time relaying heart-warming anecdotes from his life of a political prisoner. The father makes bullying which has once sky-rocketed him to dissident status into absolute evil so that he can scoff at the suffering of everyone else. The son pretends he continues fighting the institution even when he in fact sits on committees.

 

Revolutionary Eros

There was reportedly no sex under the communist rule in the Eastern Bloc. The ways of behaving, dressing and depicting were meant to repress individual desires and emphasize a shared interest in building a better world.

But look at how women were depicted in social realism! Look at the women workers, women kolkhoz members, sportswomen, women revolutionaries, women teachers and girl Pioneers! The ideal types of tough Amazonians, eager schoolgirls or experienced women commissars! The rough hands, the bulging calves, the determined yet indifferent face expressions, the uniforms and the overalls! The big and heavy tools that in their womanly hands become easily wielded toys! Does the road to revolution lead through pornography or is it that revolution leads into pornography?

 

Utopian Society

Premise n.1: As universally acknowledged, the utopian society will make it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, raise cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind without ever becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.

Premise n. 2: As no less universally acknowledged, for our situation it is fairly typical we do one thing today and another tomorrow. We earn our wages in the morning, shop in the afternoon, do household chores in the evening and feed social networks with our critical views after dinner as long as we can keep our eyes open. All this we can do just as we have a mind without ever becoming full-time employees on a permanent contract, taking interest in the origin of what we are buying, paying off our mortgages or caring whether our critique will change anything.

Conclusion: We live in a utopian society.

 

Wellbeing

The key to wellbeing of the society is wellbeing of the individual. First, we should take care of ourselves, get to know our desires and find ways how best deal with them. By taking care of ourselves we make our life into a work of art; that incites admiration in others and sets an example worth their following. Gradually, the whole of human universe becomes a beautiful jewel.

Let us begin with a high quality breakfast. It can be either sweet or salty. Sweet breakfast is comprised of cream yoghurt (plain or fruity), alternatively cereals (soaked in plain yoghurt or milk), sometimes pastry (with cottage cheese or poppy seed) and fair trade coffee from mocca pot. Salty breakfast is comprised of bread or toasts with egg, either a boiled egg, scrambled egg or fried egg (to which we can add cheese, salami or bacon). We start by breaking the egg with a gentle tap on its rounded end.

 

Irony

As a means of criticizing today’s state of the world irony proves absolutely ineffective. In the era of accelerated circulation of information with ever-changing context scare quotes get easily lost. While the intention of the message is no longer traceable, its effect gets pared down to the immediate impression.

What is more, irony has coupled with the ruling order. It is used by an allegedly postmodern subject who evades identification with anything.  The subject is afraid she would be taken seriously and is putting herself in scare quotes all the time. Therefore, irony gets dangerously close to cynicism.

Let us be honest then. Let us speak seriously. Preferably in short, simple sentences. Even better, in single words.