The Discovery of Slowness II

Amande IN, J. Brož, A. Cséfalvay, C. David, M. Esterházy, P. Feriancová, M. Gavula & M. Tittel, M. Höpfner, K. Hrušková, D. Kenderová, L. Mičíková, K. Morháčová, A. Olthaar, D. Rey, B. Sirka, C. Snapp, J. Varga, M. Vongrej, Z. Žabková

Dorota Kenderová & Jaro Varga, text: Lucia Gavulová

Oct 03, 2012 - Oct 28, 2012
Tranzit Bratislava + Galéria HIT, Bratislava

Oct 03, 2012 6:30PM

Umelci / Artists:
Amande IN (FR), Jan Brož (CZ), András Cséfalvay (SK), Cristina David (RO), Marcell Esterházy (FR, HU), Petra Feriancová (SK), Matej Gavula & Milan Tittel (SK), Michael Höpfner (AT, DE), Katarína Hrušková (SK), Dorota Kenderová (SK), Lucie Mičíková (SK), Katarína Morháčová (SK), Arianne Olthaar (NL), Dominique Rey (CA), Boris Sirka (SK), Colin Snapp (USA), Jaro Varga (SK), Martin Vongrej (SK), Zuzana Žabková (SK), Bios (SK)

Slowness is essentially hard-to-grasp, it is hardly describable form of time-flow- at least from the points of view, which are captured and transmitted as signals by the exhibition The Discovery of Slowness. It would be probably easier to interpret it through a prism of associations (collection of visions) than to comment on it in the scope of explicit definitions. The word slowness itself and the idea of experience of it associates for me with the performative recitation of Karl Holmquist (its meditational nature, sensuality, perfectionism, organicity of the spoken word, repetition, fragmentation of sentences, work with breath, slow-down) or novels of Jean-Phillipe Toussaint. These are marked by melancholic attempts to slow down the course of time (the main character of Television1 is troubled by how the time “flows” through one’s fingers- like water; the metaphor of this observation is represented by his regular swimming and wading through the pool, like an imaginary scramble through time: “I was slowly spreading my arms in the cold, a bit oily water and swimming to the shore. At times, I did few meters on the back, kicked slightly with my legs and occasionally turned around my head, to avoid that potentially unfortunate collision with a tire or swan…” … again, the main protagonist of The Bathroom closes himself up in the bathroom, stares in the mirror for a long time, while he goes through the misery of invincible wasting of life, of ageing). Then also snowing (the snow usually falls steadily, associates calmness; the fog evokes similar feeling, it is just a transposition of slowness to the atmospherical semblance of a different state), and finally bon-vie, hedonism, dandism, pensiveness, intellectualism, distraction from concrete time, outspread, far-reach, time- consummation, emanation of time, overlap, immensity, uncoverability, infinity…
The exhibition presents artworks, which refer to slowness and evoke its idea by various means. The slowness is currently an attractive topic, mainly because of the constantly quickening life of society. In addition to that, slowness is diversely thematised as a critique of that way of life and by emphasizing that, we usually accentuate the need of slowdown and of rediscovery of the life balance. The speed is usually related to the performance and capacity. However, the slowness must not, a priori, mean incapability- it is rather about the experience of time itself, its individual perception and consideration. The viewer present at the exhibition would understand that the curators’ intention is not a critique in the sense of putting slowness as a counterpart of speed= performance; it is not even a “heroisation” of slowness in the spirit of its hedonistic understanding in 18th century (which is reflected in the book by Milan Kundera Slowness2 , where he develops the idea of the loss of pleasure of slowness in the chaotic contemporary society) - where there was this idea of sensuality connected to slowness- the slower you acted, the intensity of memories was more intense. The chosen artworks and the whole conception of the exhibition don’t go this way. More than a critique, or an attempt to point to problems of current extremely fast society,it is a curatorial selection of works which don’t put themselves a priori in the opposition to speed (=to the performance), but represent unbiased, sensational and intuitive preferences of the authors of the concept. The exhibition is thus not an “exploration” of slowness, but rather an attempt to grasp- demarcate- indicate and visualize the sense, which is evoked by the phenomenon of slowness. The curators try to translate how they feel it and how it is present in the chosen works- either in narrative or associative way. Nevertheless, the primary reflection of slowness itself is not an intention in any of the exhibited works. Slowness comes as a side product, aftermath or consequence of actions, which are depicted in works, and which are, in some way, leading to slowness; it emerges somewhere in the second or third plan of situations and impressions they create. It becomes more a “silent witness” than “loud companion”, discreet consequence or inevitability, fact, simile, movement, evidence. The selection of artists presented on the exhibition was not based on their programmed interest and work with the topic of slowness, but rather on the “feeling of slowness”- experience of it through individual artworks.
The slowness is best perceivable within the movement. It is inseparably linked to the impression of the time-flow (and the related problematics of age/ ageing, transfer, travelling, waiting, change of time-zones, processuality, change of form). The work with slowness in these intentions is present in the works of Cristina David, Marcell Esterházy, Michael Höpfner, Amande In, Dorota Kenderová, Lucie Mičíková, Dominique Rey, Jaroslav Varga. On the other hand, slowness is a feeling, that can be communicated from the artistic reflection by means of its atmosphere, induced situation that evokes the slowness, or the slowness as a part of it in its nature. We can talk about the atmosphere of slowness or suspension- „freezing of time“, associated to situations we can only imagine, as we don’t have any experience of them (state of weightlessness, perishing/ death); or bonded to various peculiarities, that emerge on the basis of observation of reality by the authors focusing on its more-or-less standard nuances linked to time. The slowness re-presented this way characterize works by András Cséfalvay, Jan Brož, Petra Feriancová, Matej Gavula a Milan Tittel (xyz), Katarína Hrušková, Arianne Olthaar, Boris Sirka, Colin Snapp and Zuzana Žabková. In the case of Katarína Morháčová the slowness appears in the audio-visual form, and eventually, Martin Vongrej examines and elaborates the slowness of space. On the basis of abovementioned brief summarization it is clear, that the exhibition does not want to be a critique of the problems of currently accelerated civilisation of the globalized world- and thus that of speed- but an illustration of the diversity of aspects of slowness- how they emerge in the latest discourses of contemporary art.
The exhibition „has“ a sense of humour, even irony at some points, it is playful to some extent. Eventually, the viewer recognises, that the playfulness is, in most of the cases, a guise for contemplativeness, maybe even deeply uncoscious fear of the unknown or the bizzare situations of current world. The obsession (in the positive sense) of this exhbition becomes a certain mode of experiencing time, while it fatally flows. It is a passion for slowness with its side effects of slowdown, sensation, perception, reflection… suspension.

(1) Czech translation by Jovanka Štolová, Dauphin, Praha, 2000
(2) French original La Lenteur, Gallimard, Paris, 1995

Lucia Gavulová