Presenting the recent works of three Eastern European artists. The exhibition tries to unveil the process of acquisition, reworking and distortion of the most popular historical narratives of today and the methods of retrieving individual stories that were forgotten...
Courtesy of Federica Schiavo Gallery, Rome
"Reworking Memories" presents the recent works of three Eastern European artists: Agnieszka Polska, Svätopluk Mikyta and Nika Neelova. The exhibition tries to unveil the process of acquisition, reworking and distortion of the most popular historical narratives of today and the methods of retrieving individual stories that were forgotten
This three artists manipulate the language and memory, questioning the common idea of an archive as the most faithful means of recording people's memory. In their practices, each artist focuses on the ability of actual or fictional, collective or private 'archives' of creating new narratives. They offer an unusual point of view on the ordinary rhetoric of history as well as on individual mythologies.
Agnieszka Polska's media of choice is animation, video, and photography. The Berlin-based Polish artist presents a project which includes the large-scale projection of the quasi documentary video "How The Work Is Done" and a selected body of works from her recent photographic series: "Arton and How The Work Is Done". Polska works in video and photography, she creates collages interlacing historical art motifs with everyday images. In doing so, she questions the veracity of archives and the historical narrative they seek to provide. How does saving a work of art affect its later reception? Why does this documentation often seem more interesting than the documented object or event itself? Does the act of archiving serve to keep memory about selected cultural values alive or rather to negate those values that are not chosen to be archived? Most of Polska's videos or photographic projects focus on how misinterpreting the past leads art forward by creating new qualities and posing new questions. The archive - like any living organism - lives and changes without cease, endlessly multiplying images of itself. Elements that have been negated and rejected in the process of archiving later emerge as the dark matter of our subconsciousness.
Svätopluk Mikyta is a Slovak artist with a strong Central European identity. His works make reference to the political iconography of socialist mass movements and to the nationalist and religious symbols of Eastern Europe. He takes high print-quality photographic reproductions from old books and magazines and reworks them with various overlaying techniques. By means of over-drawings and collage-like alternations he "doubles" their captivating aesthetics and exposes the political manipulation of images, the impact of which is still being felt today. Sometimes his interventions, with a pen and often with red paint, are scarcely perceptible, sometimes they are so refined that they give rise to something totally new in terms of both composition and theme. Mikyta usually produces series of works which are intended to be hung in groups to evoke associations with history and personal stories due to their open-ended character.
For the exhibition the artist has created a site-specific intervention, "Society I and Society II". These interventions always show an unmistakable feeling for the graphic potential of the source material and for its historical essence, the collective psychology concealed within it. However, at the same time, Mikyta also explores the fate of the individual - including himself - within the context of the time. The intimate aspect of his work comes forward in a symbiosis with the reﬂection of 'mass' themes, both dimensions are a part of a compact whole. He says: "I like to doubt something which is perceived as untouchable and changeless. To instigate people to look at things from a different angle and that way maybe unobtrusively 'kick' a theme or a problem".
The Russian-born and 2010 winner of the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4's New Sensations, Nika Neelova debuts in her first Italian exhibition with the large-scale sculptural installation "Relics". In this piece she presents the idea of merging reality and fiction and introducing parts of this fiction into the real world. It approaches the theme of the fairly distinguished and familiar legend of the unicorn and its subsequent explanation as a scientific fact to reveal the contradiction between the perception of fiction and the acceptance of reality.
"My personal history is embedded into the collective and adopted history, narrated through the evocation of remembered architectural spaces, houses and rooms that I used to live in. I have created a series of works depicting decaying architectural structures inspired by spaces that once existed. Fragments of these spaces have been rebuilt from materials salvaged from other places or histories, becoming therefore emblematic of both - a cultural and historical displacement, as well as of transience and persistence over time. This series of 'rooms' introduced as decaying skeletal installations point to a lost and invisible whole. The installations I make are always very site- and time-specific, responding directly to the features of the space in which they are presented".
The notion of time is central to Neelova's work. The reliance on memory also explores its failure, where distorted and selective replace what's actual and complete. Therefore, Neelova constructs a complex set of correlations between the remembered, the forgotten, the actual and the ephemeral where these fractured indices take form in monumental, haunting, melancholic objects.
"Reworking Memories" opens on the 24th of November 2011 and runs through the 28th of January 2012 at the Federica Schiavo Gallery in Rome.
Federica Schiavo Gallery
Piazza Montevecchio 16
Source: www.federicaschiavo.com, www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk