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10 Nov 2015

Kunsthalle Bratislava: Jan Mancuska - First Retrospective

Jan Mancuska: The Other (I Asked My Wife to Blacken
All the Parts of My Body Which I Cannot See), 2007. Detail view. Collection Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna; Collection Maddalena and Paolo Kind. Courtesy Jan Mancuska Estate, Meyer Riegger Berlin / Karlsruhe, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Jan Mancuska - First Retrospective
Kunsthalle Bratislava


Opening: November 12th, 2015, 6pm
Duration: November 13th 2015 - February 14th 2016
Open: WED - MON 12 pm - 7 pm / FRI 12 pm - 9 pm / TUE – closed


Dom umenia/Kunsthalle Bratislava
Nam. SNP 12
812 34 Bratislava

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Jan Mancuska (1971 – 2011) sought to create new agency in artistic theory as well as practice. He perceived the necessity of bridging the contradiction of the present between art prior to, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In his view, artists were either clinging to nativist art forms and traditions, or without objection speaking the language and topics of the international art canon. The new agency, as realized by Mancuska, was to be internationally engaged and, through this engagement, capable of relating stories connected with the place and with specific historical experience. Author himself conceived exhibitions as installation, as well as performative events. The First retrospective in Dom umenia/Kunsthalle Bratislava is not a simulation of the artist's approach to the exhibition as a locally specific event. It is (quite conventionally) structured chronologically. It places emphasis on the precise re-installation of works that are intellectually and aesthetically ground-breaking, which have been generously lent by important international and domestic collections.
On the one hand, he developed the post-conceptual artistic tradition, which actively thematizes language in the process of narration. On the other hand, his interest grew in recounting – often existential, true stories. The movement between the elements of these two spectra – the artificiality of language and the oppressiveness of the narrated story – might be regarded as the primary locus of the power of his expression. The characteristic element in Mancuskaʼs oeuvre became his series of works transposing either often a real story or a story 'found' by the artist for spatial installations – lines intersecting space. The levitating words offer the possibility of spatial reading and physically passing through the story. Here, Mancuska employed existential stories in order to contemplate the endless array of the possible ways of telling a story – ways depending on the one who is narrating and on the place from where he or she observes the particular event. Mancuska at the same time applied these methods in film and video production. Apart from creating works of art, Mancuska also tirelessly produced texts and polemics. His textual (as well as spoken) production, which he himself viewed as a process parallel to visual practice, has the character of an associative and critical apparatus changing over time. The exhibition was prepared for the Prague City Gallery by the curator Vit Havranek. At Dom umenia/Kunsthalle Bratislava, it is the first modified reprise and it will be presented at the Moravian Gallery in Brno and Museum of Art in Lodz in its modified version.

Vit Havranek