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  • Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation. http://www.theshowroom.org/ http://www.whw.hr/

Artists

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Petr Štembera

Petr Štembera is among the key Czech performance artists of the 1970s. He was one of the leading figures of the Prague body art circle and from 1970 mediated contact with important performance art representatives both in the West and in Eastern Bloc countries.

In the early 1970s, Štembera’s interest in extreme physical and psychological experiences led to extreme body art pieces that he began to document in the manner customary in American body art: a black-and-white photography with a short description – a report on when and where it happened. Štembera’s first performances took place in nature and a number of later pieces dealt with the relationship between the human body and a natural entity, such as “Štěpování“ (Grafting) (1975) when Štembera grafted a bush sprig into his arm in a way common in arboriculture, or in “Spaní na stomě” (Sleeping in a tree) (1975) when, after three sleepless nights, he spent the fourth night in a tree.

Štembera’s early work is still in the artist’s self-searching phase and only arose within the closed circle of his fellow-artists Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch. Only later did Štembera’s body as a subject of inner experience become for him an object and instrument at the same time.  This is very apparent from the time when the Prague body-art trio conducted their performances before small audiences. It was at these “evening performances" secretly held at various places that Štembera conducted a number of extreme body art performances in which he exposed his body and sometimes even the viewers to danger. Štembera’s courage supplemented by skills learned from yoga enabled him to undertake very demanding performances. Their excruciating nature and symbolism strongly resonated with the “normalization” years in Czechoslovakia following the Soviet occupation.

Like Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch, Štembera decided to stop his performance activities in the late 1970s. This was due to a feeling of exhaustion, but also a feeling of awkwardness to carry out artificially risky acts in light of the real perils faced by those involved in the Charter 77. Štembera’s interest in other psychophysical activities, such as oriental martial arts, also played a role.

P.M.

Born in Plzen, Czech Republic, 1945.

Štembera, originally a painter, started performing actions in 1971. They mainly took place in Prague (Czech Republic), but also in other European countries as well as in the USA. Together with fellow artists Jan Mlčoch and Karel Miler he organized and performed actions from about 1970 to about 1980. At the beginning of the 1980s all three stopped performing and afterwards became curators.

Lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic.


Solo Exhibitions (selected):

1980     “Petr Štembera”, Papala Gallery, Karlsruhe, Germany

1977     “Petr Štembera”, ANA galleria Oppera, Genoa, Italy

1976     “Petr Štembera”, Studio 16/e, Turin, Italy


Group Exhibitions (selected):

2011     “Museum of Parallel Narratives. In the framework of L’Internationale”, MACBA Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2009     “Subversive Praktiken - Kunst unter Bedingungen politischer Repression“, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany         

2007     Prague Biennale 3, Prague, Czech Republic

2005     “Support 3. Fluxus, Happening, Konzeptkunst“, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

2004     “Kurze Karrieren”, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2002     “Corps et traces”, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues

 

Neuburger, Susanne, Saxenhuber, Hedwig, eds. 2004. Kurze Karrieren: Stephen Kaltenbach, Christine Kozlov, Lee Lozano, Konrad Lueg, Karel Miler, Jan Mlčoch, Hilka Nordhausen, OHO, Verena Pfisterer, Charlotte Posenenske, Petr Štembera, Goran Trbuljak. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (May 20-Aug. 1, 2004)]

 

Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Jan Mlčoch: 1970-1980. 1997. Curated by Karel Srp. Prague: Galerie Hlavního Mesta.

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