Tereza Darmovzalová: In Light of Controlled Events
06. 05. 2021 – 30. 05. 2021
curator: Markéta Jonášová
In her exhibition at etc. gallery, audiovisual artist Tereza Darmovzalová presents her new wrok that invites us to search for links between plant growth, technological progress, and the culture of work under capitalism. A visual collage of images of unified grow rooms, decorative gardens, and visualisations of interior spaces are complemented by a dialogue between a worker at a vegetable-producing greenhouse and a botanical garden employee, in which both characters plan to effect radical change based on indiscernible changes. Although it seems that their plans aim at the future, familiar images from the present challenge this temporal horizon and uncover the features of a revolution we have become part of.
Mon 15 Mar 2021 at 13:22 etc. galerie <email@example.com> wrote:
When we were discussing the possible format for the text of your exhibition, we kept hoping the epidemiological situation would improve and we’d be able to open the show at the end of March. It’s mid-March, we’ve postponed the exhibition, and we’re still hoping it will open. I feel that out of all the possible formats, the genre of the email interview best describes our present situation and the conditions under which your exhibition was created. How did the ongoing pandemic and the related restrictions influence the work that will be displayed at the etc. gallery?
P.S.: Do you think you’ll want to edit the interview before it goes to print? I quite like the idea of printing the emails as they were first sent.
Kurátorka / Curator
Sarajevská 16, Praha 2
Wed 17 Mar 2021 at 21:46 Tereza Darmovzalová <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Re: your ps: I agree with your proposal. We’ll see where it takes us. It’s a good idea and I’ll keep it in mind as I think about my answers.
First, I wanted to reply that planning anything these days is highly demotivating, but then I realised that’s no longer how I see it. During the course of the year, I’ve become accustomed to this state of uncertainty, even though I still don’t know what it means. When I moved from Prague to Kopřivnice two years ago, the only thing I could think about after a while was that I was too far away from everyone and everything. But what began as a personal state unexpectedly became a pan-societal fact. We can illustrate this with our relationship:) This is our second collaboration yet we’ve never met in person.
During the course of these days, as I am finishing our video, I realise I couldn’t have expected a more favourable time. Apartments have been transformed into greenhouses in which we try to endure these times in good mental and physical health. Some succeed and others do not, because the consequences of the government’s decisions have brought them down to rock bottom. There are many emotions bubbling up inside us, trying to understand the restrictive measures as solutions but unable to overlook the fact that they are also tools for maintaining dysfunctional values. I think I really found myself in the situation I wanted to hint at in the video, i.e. under the influence of a specific micro-climate and various strategies of manipulation. You can see this very well in our current household, which is composed of three generations. Each of us has contributed their identity / their perspective, their problems. We spend time together, we argue, we become attuned to each other’s habits, and we change these too. It is within this micro-climate that my new work is created – originally, I wanted it to illustrate the question of influence, but now, I am drawing on my personal experiences more than I had anticipated.
As I finish writing this email, I’m not sure whether your proposal won’t end up making the brochure into a book. Sorry for the length and digression. I’ll be more concise next time.
Mon 22 Mar 2021 at 17:19 etc. galerie <email@example.com> wrote:
I hadn’t realised that we’ve never met in person in all this time. During this past year, so many work processes were gradually transferred into the digital domain I no longer even notice what a change this makes in interpersonal (and interspecies) contact. In the interview between two people that runs through the video, one asks the other: “Do you know what an atomic habit is?”. I have to admit that I didn’t, but as soon as I understood it means constant micro-improvements with the aim of increasing performance, capital, or production, I began understanding it as a key principle currently operating in many areas of our lives. How do you think about these atomic habits in relation to human labour and plant cultivation in your work?
Mon 29 Mar 2021 at 13:02 Tereza Darmovzalová <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Atomic habits are currently very well defined tools for personal growth. The pandemic has highlighted our need to create a daily regime and this is one of the possibilities for achieving real and sustainable changes to our routine. I use this principle myself and it really works. But sure, no matter how you look at it, it is primarily a tool for increasing efficiency in various ways – fulfilling career goals, maintaining mental health, but also learning new skills. A key element of the atomic habit is establishing identity and understanding the habit as a path towards it. For me, it was important to realise at this point the kind of situation I am selecting this identity in and what factors influence it. And despite the fact that we are discussing a tool that puts you in the position of an active participant, it is passive with regards to the force that put you in this position. At the beginning of the concept of my video was an urge to explore the field of the micro-climate in its most saturated form, so I decided to continue my cultivation series and naturally moved on to greenhouses.
Greenhouses, and by extension any cultivation taking place in a controlled microclimate, are a multi-layered theme that presents unexpected encounters between theories essentially influencing our present discourse.
The historical development of greenhouses is primarily a story of changing functions that are still at work today. The first technological peak took place in the 19th century, when they became representational showcases of colonial success – colonialism, after all, is still defended primarily in terms of science and education. The current produce greenhouses owned by technological corporations are, once again, the technological peak of their age, styling themselves as saviours of the planet, representing the only possible solution to the food crisis. It remains a fact that greenhouses stood, emblematically, at the beginning of the industrial revolution, which transformed not only our work and life habits but also the very climate of the planet, upon which traditional agriculture can no longer rely – so total control is needed that gives you a regional tomato all year-round.
The result of this mapping is a schizophrenic state. Someone is manipulating you for their own goals, but they’ll never tell you the truth. That’s why I decided my video wouldn’t be an illustration, speaking instead about the necessity of realising one’s own position/identity.
I consider this a crucial liberating moment that stands at the beginning of a targeted transformation. The video’s protagonists speak of atomic habits and the power of connection because this could be a path to sustainable changes.
My video is about nothing other than the strategy used by the system of which they are a part, and which the characters surreptitiously and gradually turn against itself.
ps. now I see we’re missing a more continuous introduction to the schizophrenic state, but maybe I’ll explain that some other way somewhere else.
Wed 31 Mar 2021 at 17:19 etc. galerie <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you very much for your detailed answer, I’m glad you summarised the central themes of the video from your perspective. The fact that you do not use these themes illustratively, without trying to lecture the spectators, instead offering a space to realise one’s own position, represents a very strong strategy for me. Can you imagine developing these themes in a medium other than the moving image? How important is working with the installation for you?
Tue 6th Apr 2021 at 13:27 Tereza Darmovzalová <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thanks for that observation. Personally, I think I’m still not quite successful in this. But the ambition is there. Thanks to my studies at the academy and a certain personal motivation – which seems to stem from my upbringing – I am sometimes more interested in socio-political texts than in the artworks themselves, as they help me describe certain perceptions with some emotional distance… and I am also soothed by their factual nature. What I am trying to describe to you is a complex experience, perhaps a perspective of something that isn’t always sufficiently described by authorial shorthand, something you need more time and tools to process. Although I thought I would be a photographer, I now have to search for the path to photography by force, because it’s not enough for me as a storytelling tool.
However, the moving image never stands at the beginning of my working process – it forces itself upon me during the course of it. And then there’s no other way around it. That’s the paradox. So the reason I work with the moving image is that I know no other way, and because it is a means that carries within it much more than the image itself. It is its source, format, presentation, installation. All this carries important information that is, to an extent, legible to an uninformed spectator. In my video for etc., I used the principle of montage, which, among other things, connects various types of images. These are the result of processual work and an understanding of the image as a specific identity, which can be both personal and corporate. Thanks to Petr Bureš’s architecture, we managed to create a gently immersive space that does not dominate the space and yet proves to be unexpected when one realises it. Just like the formative force of the video’s protagonists.
Wed 7 Apr 2021 17:44 etc. galerie <email@example.com> wrote:
I hope we really manage to finish the installation following Petr’s design so that it supports the effect of your work, and that we’ll be able to discuss it in person, here in the gallery, together with other visitors. Tomorrow is the deadline for sending this text off to be translated, so I think it’ll be best if we wrap this up, unless you want to mention anything else that’s important? And as for the copy editing, would you agree to only correcting typos?
18:23 (8 minutes ago)
Yeah. I agree. Typos and grammatical errors:) I can’t think of anything massively important and I don’t want to predict too much. So send it off. Thanks! T.
Tereza Darmovzalová (*1990) is finishing her Master’s studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Studio of Intermedia Work III). She has completed a scholarship at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and a course at the Salzburg International Summer Art Academy. She has showcased her films at the Jelení Gallery, PAF Olomouc, and on the website of Artycok.TV. In her work, she deploys photography, installation, and moving image. Her artistic strategy is anchored in the conceptual exploration of current social phenomena and their impact on our everyday reality.
TRANSLATION: IAN MIKYSKA
DESIGN: NELA KLÍMOVÁ
IT: ONDŘEJ ROZTOČIL
PARTNERS: AKADEMIE VÝTVARNÝCH UMĚNÍ V PRAZE, ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS IN PRAGUE
SPECIAL THANKS TO: ANNA DAVIDOVÁ, TOMÁŠ KAJÁNEK, MICHAL JURZA, MAX MÁSLO, JAMES MANSFIELD