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Artlist — Center for Contemporary Arts Prague

Matěj Al-Ali

First Name
Birth place
Bardejov, Slovensko
Place of work
installation art
public art
CSU Library
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About artist

Al-Ali’s work has an intermedia character expressed in object and video. However, these media are often combined within installation wholes. The artist creates systems that find ways out in the elements of contemporary social structures.  They take the form of the camera obscura, except that they are smaller than their prototypes and invert their contents. The viewer thus experiences a revelation, an insight into internal connections, the opposite of the superficial.

The means by which Al-Ali presents his insights take many different forms. The installation Protiváha / Counterweight (2014) symbolically constructs the process of creating pictures using materials and their relationship. It reacts to the overdetermination of digital images that restrict access to their origin and purpose. The gallery space is polarised into two parts. On one side we see a mechanism, on the other the resulting cold concrete image in the ratio 16:9. The mechanism actually casts the picture and both parts are in both spatial and ideological balance, since they are presented equally and in their integrity to the viewer.

On the other hand, the joint project of Al-Ali, Petr Dub and Tomáš Moravec entitled Stezka odvahy / Trail of Courage (2012) reveals the internal structure of the problematic in concrete instances. The project outcome was an intervention in a typical Prague suburb. Thirteen notice boards containing theoretical texts on contemporary urbanism were joined into an educational trail. The architectural features thus highlighted then created a confrontation between the theoretical level with practical examples. Questions relating to the planning of urban situations are also examined in two others of Al-Ali’s projects, namely Handle with Care and Criticism (2014) and Panic Room (2014). Panic Room consists of several sets of grey concrete blocks that evoke a building site prior to construction. Although they are raw building materials, the blocks themselves resemble architectural models. They can thus be read as both means and end, and this opens up questions regarding the creative role of modern architecture and the standardisation thereof.

Another intervention in public space is Cizinec / Foreigner from 2014, in which Al-Ali wrapped up an ugly, battered looking advertising column in sheepskin. The column thus enrobed encouraged urban   features to be looked at in a different way. The intervention Falešné důvody / False Reasons (2011) on the other hand attempts to conceal while expanding the character of the incompleteness of the arcade in which it is installed. The object forms a closed cell with the unfinished floor and blends into its surroundings despite its lack of a raison d’être. Despite the targeted though often sophisticated critique of individual aspects of social life, Al-Ali’s works abound in the absurdity residing in the impossibility of defining the intention of the objects and installations. This aspect of absurdity, i.e. a certain contradiction between expectation and reality, appears in other works. The gallery site-specific installation Čtyřhra / Doubles (2014) confirms this in a simple way. It is a table tennis table divided into four equal fields closed in relation to each other. The very foundation of this platform for a joint game is made impossible. The installation again works with architecture, this time the space of the gallery. The plasterboard that forms the boundaries rises to a height and then naturally blends into the ceiling. We are unsure as to whether the construction emerges from the ceiling, from the table, or whether it has a supporting function that, however, also extends into the field of play.

The installation Příjemná výplň / Pleasant Filling (2012) also works with inexplicability and hidden humour. Four hanging objects are soft and pliable and invite the viewer to embrace them. However, the title is a play on words. Is it a pleasant filling we are embracing or a pleasant way of filling the time we spend embracing the object? This work also reflects other aspects of the artist’s strategy, namely interaction and socialisation. On a basic human level this resides in the fact that Al-Ali often works in tandem with Tomáš Moravec and Petr Dub, though a collective spirit can be found in the work itself. A direct reflection of this theme is clear in the object 17 Points (with Jana Bernartová, Petr Dub and Tomáš Moravec) from 2011. Each artist independently created a spatial object and then by democratic vote collectively decided on the form of the binding material, which was a double sided woodscrew. The result was a collective unit constructed from four different individualities.

The spirit of the collective is contained in the “happening” character of the video Od hlavy k patě / From Head to Toe (2013). We see a group of people enjoying themselves handling a vertical pole and lifting a camera up and down by 90 degrees. This is interspersed with bird’s-eye views. The boundaries of art and everyday life are also blurred in public space of Něco se děje, protože se něco děje, protože se něco děje / Something is Happening, Because Something is Happening, Because Something is Happening (2014). A human intervention in a vertical moment changes into a shelter and finally into four boards on which you can sit on the ground.

An example of a work featuring an element of performance would be Kdybych se zpotil / If I Sweated (2008). The artist walks the city with a narrow wardrobe on his back. When he starts sweating he takes off the wardrobe, takes out a clean shirt and changes into it. These amusing cyclical actions can be viewed within an existential context. We are reminded of Sisyphus, who pushed a boulder up a mountain that then rolled back down again, so that he had to roll it up again, whereupon it rolled back down again, ad infinitum. There is a vicious circle even in the idea of a sweatshirt, because if we did not carry the wardrobe containing the shirts, we would not sweat. Al-Ali metaphorically shows how we are thrown into these situations before voluntarily accepting them, which is why we have no choice.

Author of the annotation
František Fekete



2011 - 2014 MgA., University of Applied Arts in Prague, Studio of Intermedia confrontation, prof.ak.mal. George David
2008 - 2010 Institute of Art and Design, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, studio Spatial art, prof. Adela Matasová
2005 - 2008 BcA., Institute of Art and Design, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, stuido of Multimedia Design, prof. Adela Matasová

internships, creative residencies:
K.A.I.R. 2014, Kosice, Slovakia (residence)
In 2014 Medzicentrum, workshop, Nitra, Slovakia
2010 University of Applied Arts in Prague, Studio of Intermedia confrontation, George David (internship)
2009 Intermodem workshop, Modem Debrecen (HU)
2009 TEI of Athens, Deparment of Photography (internship)
2008 Somerakademie Plauen / under the direction of Dora Maurer (HU)
2007 ArtCamp IAD, Pilsen - Intermedia / under the leadership Yumi Roth (USA) and prof. Adele Matasová (CZ)


Solo exhibitions
Protiváha, galerie etc, Praha

Všichni za jednoho, Galerie 207, Praha

Situace 14 – Příjemná výplň , Galerie Pavilon, Praha

Nechme to na potom, galerie Kostka, Meetfactory, Praha 
Group exhibitions not included in ARTLIST.
Who is a director?, 4+4 dny v pohybu, Palác u Stýblů, Praha

Něco se děje, protože se něco děje, protože se něco děje, Kasárne Kulturpark, Košice, SK

Panic Room, Karlin Studios, Praha

Handle with Care and Criticism, galerie Prádelna, Praha

UMPRUM 2013, Veletržní palác, NG, Praha

Zóna v pohybu, galerie DOX, Praha

Od hlavy k patě, Alfréd ve dvoře, Praha

Open Call, Weltecho, Chemnitz, Německo

Poison Green, České Centrum v New Yorku, New York

ESSL Art Award 2013, galerie Futura, Praha

Videohovor, Galerie Tvar, Brno

Dotek, Galerie Futura, Praha

Would you like to play another game?, 4+4 dny v pohybu, Casino Happy Day Pařížská, Praha

Koryta a sedla, s Tomášem Moravcem, Galerie Jelení, Praha

VI. Zlínský Salón Mladých, Dům Umění, Zlín

Revizor, PIF PAF Festival, Olomouc

Štěstí, 4+4 dny v pohybu, ÚLUV, Praha

Konečně spolu, Galerie Armaturka, Ústí n. Labem

25/06/2011, s Tomášem Moravcem, Galerie2, Pražské Quadrienále, Praha

Ohlasy entropie, s Petrem Dubem a Tomášem Moravcem, Galerie Kritiků, Praha

Posun o 90 stupňů, Galerie NOD, Praha

Křehké kino, s Tomášem Moravcem, architektonické řešení výstavního programu, Galerie Mladých, Brno

Světovaření, areál Světovaru, Pilsen

EXIT a.a.O, Bethanien, Berlin

Náhodný klam, s Tomášem Moravcem, Altán Klamovka, Praha

EXIT, finalista EXIT award, Galerie Emila Filly, Ústí n. Labem

Náhradní Ponožky, s Tomášem Moravcem, Entrance Gallery, Praha

Partrition 2.0 / Fake, Modem, Debrecen (HU)

OFF COURSE, Meetfactory, Praha

Smíšené zboží, Galerie, Rožmitál, Rožmitál p. Tremšínem

Tělo jako nástroj, Galerie kritiků, Praha


Center for Contemporary Arts Prague www.fcca.cz 2006–2018
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