There are many words we could use to describe the work of the creative duo comprising Anetta Mona Chisa, a Romanian artist who also works in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and the Slovak artist Lucia Tkáčová, but boring is not one of them. Since 2000 they have been collaborating on works that are simply articulated yet highly expressive. However, by no means does this imply shallowness. The focus of the artists on the gender and political aspects of the institutional level of the art scene and on the general societal context is accompanied by a sensitive, restrained distance, in which the humour and complexity of the issues together exceed the boundaries of purely ideological considerations.
In their older works, such as The Red Library (2005), in which they evaluate the male component of the Czech art scene from a purely sexist viewpoint, or the series of videos Dialectics of Subjection (2004-2006), which takes the form of a series of light-hearted dialogues between the artists on the topic of the masculine hierarchy of the art world and the sexual aspects of its actors, a significant feature of their work is the inversion of the active male subject and passive female erotic object. However, here this ironic game is also part of the artists’ striving for success and fame within the very system they criticise. Chisa and Tkáčová also deploy humour in another of their projects, which relates to institutional criticism. Since 2005, as part of the project Private collection, the collection in question contains many commonplace articles stolen by the artists from leading international galleries. What was originally an object with a certain use value becomes a “consecrated” exhibit in an exhibition by virtue of its provenance. Chisa and Tkáčová also reflect on political and economic themes, also sometimes relating to gender questions, as in When Labour Becomes Form (2007). Elsewhere, for instance in 80:20 (2011), their contribution to the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, they applied the Pareto Principle, which examines the unequal way that wealth is distributed in society, to the institutional aspects of their own participation in this event.
Over recent years the work of Chisa and Tkáčová has become more expressive and even monumental, while remaining based on a similar thematic, conceptual starting point as in the works above. Both the video Try again, Fail again, Fail better (2011), and the installation Either Way, We lose (2012) work with a monumental inflatable fist, the kind that is raised as a symbol of protest and rebellion. In the video it becomes a controlled and controlling puppet that drags its “puppeteers” around at least to the same extent as they drag it. This parable about the ambiguity between an image representing protest and its meaning tells us a lot about the long-term creative considerations of the artists linked with a dialectical understanding of the ideas and topics they present. Clearly this is also related to the “binary-uniqueness” they enjoy as a creative duo. This aspect of their work is exemplified in Vessel (i aM a venus, A conch, a kiT, a Cat, a Lot) (2012), at first sight a vase on which both artists worked, but in fact a bust with two faces.