• Probe 1 – The Story of Slovak (Post)Conceptual art
    12 Dec 2018 − 24 March 2019

    Prague City Gallery / Stone Bell House Curated by: Vlado Beskid and Jakub Král Loans by Kontakt: Ján Mančuška, Julius Koller, Stano Filko, Roman Ondak The exhibition will introduce Czech public into one of the crucial tendencies found in modern and contemporary Slovak art. It will focus on the origination and development of Conceptual and post-Conceptual Art within the horizon of the past fifty years in Slovakia, i.e. from the alternative, unofficial scene of the 1960s to the post-1989 legal artistic platform. The oeuvres of two generations of artists, such as Viktor Frešo, Jozef Jankovič, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová, Martin Kochan, Július Koller, Marek Kvetan, Ján Mančuška, Roman Ondák, Boris Ondreička, Monogramista T.D, Rudolf Sikora, Pavla Sceranková, Peter Rónai and Jaro Varga, will serve to present particular forms of Conceptual artistic morphology, as it was shaped by the new aesthetic criteria with their codes, in the context of time. The exhibition, held as a specific contribution to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the existence of Czechoslovakia, will go hand in hand with interventions by several Czech artists (Jan Brož, Alice Nikitinová, Vít Soukup, Pavel Sterec, Antonín Střížek, Michaela Thelenová) who will loosely contextualize selected historical, social, economic and world-view facets of our history. Their main subject of interest is the transformations of the internal social paradigm, presented the loss of the utopian outreach of our thinking in connection with the declining big ideologies.


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.



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



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