Sláva Sobotovičová is one of the most original artists of the Czechoslovak environment. She works with video performance. The formal focal point of her work is various degrees of staged events, which are integrated and assisted by video compositions. The events which she organises or whose development she follows and subsequently links are based on the artist’s lived experience, on activities which are not in any way unusual: singing, washing the dishes, cleaning, making dough, observing others – both people and animals – around us, driving by car, a family visit, etc. Sláva Sobotovičová sensitively unlocks these activities so as to distil in a particular way their internal artificiality, absurdity and theatricality and their inadvertently tradition nature and conventionality. The natural world, that to which we react completely spontaneously, which makes us sad or happy, Sobotovičová is able to transpose by means of a small intervention into the level of cultural codes and deposits of the socialisation process (baptism, fairytales, parables, hymns, consumerism, morality). Experience is dispersed into two elements – emotions, which to a large part in her work are represented by folksong and music generally – and conventions, i.e. ordinary situations in some way extracted from their ignorance. All of her videos are based on an exploration of herself as a perceiving creature, searching for the causes of her conduct, behaviour and emotions. Working on the fundamentals of a person she gets deeply inside the human condition and this makes her videos universal and effective. However, her work does not fall into the trap of kitsch because it also contains an ironic distance. She sees both herself and the “natural person” from a detached position. Her art draws in the viewer while at the same time disturbing and questioning them.
Sobotovičová takes the regular processes which we do not analyse and imprisons them within a work, which fights with what we are used to. The dough which she has rise in the wastepaper bin gradually oozes out of its holes and looks for a route to complete the action it has commenced (Untitled 2005). She requests the family which she photographs while cooking and cleaning to reconstruct these little moments as precisely as possible. Their vexation at the artist’s dissatisfaction with the fact that it is still not the same as in the original photograph and needs to be corrected means after several of these reconstructions they no longer want to continue (Searching, 2003-2006). The video Champagne turns the celebration of an action against the mutuality of its sharing. A woman fires a cork at a man standing opposite her (2005). Sobotovičová played the role of television presenter instead of a newscast, holding the microphone and signing looped folksong. During the opening of her exhibition she “christened” the gallery curator with water from several packs of mineral water.
She uses bread dough in several of her works. As well as its animal-like organic structure its symbolic character within European Christian culture cannot be overlooked. In one video she puts the dough on the roof of a car and drives around town (Trip 2006). In another she has it rise on the road, only for one of the cars driving by to destroy it. She prepared dough for the private viewing of the exhibition Gross Domestic Product (2007) as a performance. Other themes involving the natural and sign world include Sobotovičová’s comparison of animals and their interaction with humans. In a work from 2006, after painting her face with tasty substances (chocolate, salt, honey), she had it licked by various pets. In another video for about four minutes she follows a goat, which she caught sliding through a fence and eating apples from a tree. This banal spectacle becomes something which the author forces us to analyse and interpret thanks to her attention. The commonplace intuitive and physical needs of a goat become a polemic on a biblical theme. She captures a similarly ambiguous event in her home, where she kept pigeons which laid eggs. So as not to harm the residents of the building, including herself, she took the eggs from the nest and threw them in the bin (Pigeon, 2009).