Jana Kapelová works with elements of cultural activism, stylisation into roles and models of participation. The procedures and themes of her work can be defined as “fluid artistic practice”. She pours herself from one theme to another in response to the current conditions in which she finds herself. This does not so much mean psychological introspection as the de/construction of the “social body” of the individual. She observes the roles that we play within society and the models that consciously or unconsciously influence and form our personal lives. On a general level Kapelová’s work can be identified with the message: “We are the institutions!” She encourages us not to accept conventions automatically but to subject them to conscious analysis, to perceive their historical basis and to attempt to find a personal approach to them.
Free Working Time
In her project Volný pracovný čas / Free Working Time (from 2011) Kapelová put a group of non-artists and amateur artists together. At the final exhibition, members of the group presented works they had created during their working hours without the knowledge of their employers. The artists, who often remained anonymous for fear of losing their jobs had “stolen” time for themselves in order to satisfy their own requirements. This was a small personal victory against the system.
Moja pamäť je zrkadlo, na ktoré mi dýchli / My Memory is a Mirror They Breathed Upon
Kapelová returned to the question of self-realisation instead of soul-destroying work in another of her works entitled My Memory is a Mirror They Breathed Upon (2012) inspired by a story from the artist’s mother, Hana Kapelová. In the face of her parents’ concerns Hana decided to leave a well paid but boring job in a factory and become a private tutor. Jana Kapelová plays her mother and presents a prosaic poem within the framework of a small staged work. An imaginary dialogue arises between the two women, while homage is paid to one life decision.
Nie my žijeme v tomto priestore, ale tento priestor žije v nás / We are not living in this space, but this space lives within us
While My Memory is a Mirror They Breathed Upon is an imaginary dialogue between mother and daughter, We are not living in this space, but this space lives within us (2013–2014, television production) is concerned with the general principle of the making visible of social codes.
Three characters hold a conversation regarding the state of art and art criticism in a building furnished in the style of the 1980s. What they say is made up of quotes from Slovak films of the 1980s during the period of “normalisation”. The video highlights the joint inter-generational code of communication and the fact that the current generation in their thirties use the same formulations as its predecessors.
The artist draws on the fact that not a single film was censored in Slovakia from 1980 onward. It was in fact auto-censorship that deleted any “incorrect” content or speech. Nevertheless, this contributed to a form of below-the-radar criticism by means of the decoding of the information presented to audiences.
Kunsthalle - súhrnná správa o stave ustanovizne / Kunsthalle – general report on the state of the institution
The project Kunsthalle – general report on the state of the institution (201 –2012) is a comprehensive analysis of the Slovak art scene. The final output was broadcast on six channels in the House of Art in Bratislava (the Kunsthalle of the title) and presented the staged dialogue of eighteen protagonists from the Ministry of Culture or artistic activities attempting over the last fifteen years to see the creation of a Slovak Kunsthalle. Their statements are interwoven and the often absurd monologues of individual actors are edited so as to create cycles of dialogues, an imaginary documentary on the frustrating, fruitless negotiations, personal disputes and disappointments that the efforts to improve the cultural infrastructure resulted in (Kapelova, 2014). The activism contained in this work is double-edged in character. It offers the art community the possibility of self-knowledge while also highlighting its inability to reach agreement.
Čekanie na materiál / Waiting for the Material
This work again thematizes the possibilities of creative self-realisation and generational dialogue on the boundary of the wider social-political context.
The main protagonist of the short video and the collaborator on the architectural element of the installation is the artist’s father, Ján Kapel. Over the course of four decades he has been transforming the interior of the family’s house in Trnava. The video is conceived as a profile of the artist and his work. It is striking not only for the editing of shots of the artist speaking and the gallery of reconstructed parts of his work, but by the gradual exposure of the traces, namely signatures and dates, relating to various phases of his work (Nóra Růžičková, 2014). Ján Kapel’s DIY strategy was motivated by the lack of materials under the previous regime. In contemporary society his creativity is nourished by the culture of surplus. He again, on the other hand, has opted for the alternative and creates exclusively from what others have discarded.
In many respects in her search for freedom Jana Kapelová is motivated to improve not only the conditions of her own life but the culture industry as a whole. This adventure does not involve simply banging her head against a brick wall, but critical negotiation, dialogue, and severe doubts regarding one’s confidence in the creative potential of an individual.
Kapelová’s work could perhaps be categorised as involving a type of art-based research. It uses dialogue, different types of analysis and the reconstruction of social situations. The role of the artist as a watchful observer of situations, intolerant of stereotypes, is important. At the same time one of the prized assets of this type of art is the ability to communicate not only within an art scene but outside of it too.
NIPAF, International Asian Festival Of Performance, Tokyo, Nagoya, Gyoda, Nagano, JP
iniciatíva Dvadsať rokov od Nežnej neprebehlo, iniciatíva zameraná na problémy kultúrnej politiky na Slovensku
Artyčok TV, redaktorka (2009–2014 koordinátorka slovenskej sekcie)
Hore bez (s Omarom Mirzom), relácia o súčasnom výtvarnom umení
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