• 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.


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Roman Ondák

The work of Roman Ondak is characterized by an interventionist praxis that takes a subtle approach to reality in order to transform the visible structures of everyday experience in an unconventional way. Ephemeral performances as well as direct interventions serve as the basis for many of Ondak’s in situ works, whether in art institutions or as public art projects. Quite often, the artist will initiate participatory projects with people from various locales or communities, whom he involves in performing a certain task. The result can be installations, photos or drawings via which the actions thus carried out find their entry into the realm of art.

The artist’s anti-approaches or reversals of a given reality, especially regarding the issue of production, are often associated with the works of Július Koller, whom he helped to be rediscovered by an international art audience through curated shows and several collaborations. Koller’s role as precursor to Slovak contemporary art, along with his rejection of a dominant reality via the formulation of anti-art statements and performances is reflected in Ondak’s take on everyday situations, which seem like everyday events yet are given a certain twist, such as when a crowd of people was invited to stand in line in front of the Kölnischer Kunstverein in 2005 in order to suggest to the public that a big event was imminent. Ondak’s work very often focuses on the observation of sometimes unnoticeable details, which are heightened by a process in which the artist explores and transforms usual routines, causing them to suddenly attract attention.

Occasionally, Ondak will also transform architectural environments through a reversal of scales or of interior and exterior scenes. The latter was demonstrated in 2006 in a show at Tate Modern, where he built a miniature model of the Turbine Hall to be installed as a room-filling installation in the Level 2 Gallery. Another example was his contribution to the 2009 Venice Bienniale, in which he extended the garden atmosphere of the Giardini into the Czech-Slovak Pavilion with soil and plants so that one could walk through as if there were no building or roof.

Dealing with specific social and spatial entities has become one of the artist’s trademarks in his quest to focus the viewer’s gaze on those sometimes mundane moments that take on of significant importance through Ondak’s artistic alterations and interventions.



Born in Žilina, Slovak Republic, 1966.

Ondak studied at the Academy of Art in Bratislava (Slovak Republic) from 1988 to 1994, and at the Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania (USA) in 1993. In 1996 he took part in the first Manifesta in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and in 2003 his work was presented at the 50th Venice Biennial (Italy). In 2007 Ondak was a stipendiary of the Artist-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD.

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2017      "History Repeats Itself", Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark

2016      "The Source of Art is in the Life of a People", South London Gallery, London, UK

2015      "Storyboard", Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

2014      "Erased Wing Mirror", Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna, Austria

2013      "Escena", Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

2012     “Roman Ondak“, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France

2011     “Roman Ondak. Time Capsule“, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK

2010     “Roman Ondak. Shaking Horizon”, Villa Arson, Nice, France

2009     “Performance 4: Roman Ondák. Measuring the Universe”, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

2008     “Path”, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, USA

2007     “The Day After Yesterday”, BAK basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands

2006     “It will All Turn Out Right in the End”, Tate Modern, London, UK

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     documenta 13, Kassel, Germany 

2011     “Ostalgia”, New Museum, New York City, USA

2010     “The Promises of the Past, 1950-2010”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2009     “Die Kunst ist super!”, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany      

2008     “A Choreographed Exhibition”, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland

2007     “The Art of Failure“, Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz/Basel, Switzerland

2006     “How to live together“, 27th São Paulo Art Biennial, Brazil

2005     “Do Not Interrupt Your Activities“, Royal College of Art, London, UK

2004     “Time and Again“, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2003     “Utopia Station“, 50th Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy

2002     “I promise it’s political“, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany

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

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Roman Ondák: Guide. 2012. Cologne: König.


Roman Ondák: Notebook. 2012. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag [Exhib. Cat., Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (Apr. 26-Jun. 18, 2012)]


Gregory, Jarrett, Valdez, Sarah, eds. 2011. Ostalgia. New York: New Museum [Exhib. Cat., New Museum New York (Jul. 14-Sept. 25, 2011)]


Rhomberg, Kathrin, ed. 2011. Loop. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics, 53. La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (Jun. 9-Nov. 22, 2009)]


Kintisch, Christine, ed. 2008. Roman Ondák: Measuring the Universe. Zurich: Ringier.


Eiblmayr, Silvia, ed. 2007. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Galerie im Taxispalais Innsbruck (Jan. 19-Mar. 4, 2007), BAK basis voor actuele kunst Utrecht (Mar. 11-May 27, 2007)]


Rhomberg, Kathrin, ed. 2005. Roman Ondák. Cologne: König [Exhib. Cat., Kölnischer Kunstverein (May 1-Jun. 27, 2004)]

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