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Ján Mančuška

Ján Mančuška’s works show that potentiality is made real in concreteness. He works with stories that have really happened. They evolve narratively and poetically along the coordinates of individual lives. Only concrete events have their possibilities represented along the coordinates of an individual life. Human perception and memory are selective, and what is characteristic of such impressions and memories is the very fact that people often notice things that are beside, behind, or before the “events” that are actually at issue—those that someone is inquiring about, or are under discussion.

It would seem that it is film which is able to present lived possibilities most naturally, due to the attractiveness of visual narration and the telling of a story, even though it is a temporal—and thus linear—medium. It is interesting that Mančuška’s works, which might be described formally as installations of texts in concrete three-dimensional spaces, often touch upon film—not only with regard to method, but immediately, in their narrative content. “To the Cinema” and “First Minute of the Rest of a Movie” take place in a screening room. The question is to what extent his textual installations might be perceived as or might even serve as specific film scripts.

What goes on, how we make our living and how we ourselves live are presented in Jan Mančuška’s works in terms of possibilities. Numerous film and literary narratives are fascinated by the moment of possibility—what might happen if at some point I reacted otherwise than in the past, and ostensibly, life might have taken a different course. Mathematics and physics would have the moment of potentiality cast into a fractal chaos; the theory of the butterfly effect illustrates how the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in Japan can cause coastal storms in the Caribbean. In the case at hand, we are not interested in the parameters of potentiality, because they are impersonal. “Only if I am not constantly and exclusively in action, but am rather left to some sort of possibility and potentiality; only as long as my experiences and intentions are, each and every time, a matter of living itself and understanding—and thus involve, in this sense, thinking—only then can the form of life become a life-form in its own fractalness and eternity, in which it is never possible to isolate anything like bare life,” says Agamben in “Life-form”. In this text, Agamben formulates life—life-form in his words—as a project in which every individual act, action and decision are perceived as potentiality—something noncommittal. Of course there are innumerable rules, deep-rooted codes, traditions and genetic predeterminations at play here, but Agamben’s view is liberating precisely in that it makes it possible to see them as possibilities—noncommittally.

 

V.H.

1972, Bratislava / SK, at that time ČSSR – 2011, Praha / CZ

 


 

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