Adéla Součková: On Earth Awakening from a Restless Dream and Her Children Tangled Up in Data Learning to See

Adéla Součková: On Earth Awakening from a Restless Dream and Her Children Tangled Up in Data Learning to See

The mythology of Adéla Součková is both visionary and primitive. It sinks its teeth into the most obvious visual and narrative archetypes or even clichés to chew them up and recompose them into structures gaining new awareness; a promise of something that is yet to come.

The solo exhibition project prepared for the gallery of the Czech Center in Berlin is a materialization of the authorial epos on Earth and her children; which, tangled up in data streams and having succumbed to the dominance of ego,  became alienated from their mother, and thus also from their own nature. Through her video essay and spatial installation of objects, paintings and prints on fabric, Součková touches upon the existential challenges faced by the rather lost inhabitants of the planet from a specific point of view. The Earth awakens from a restless dream, and not surprisingly, she is not in the best of moods. She is looking around, earthy and poetic, ready to dance a destructive dance for her children, hoping to make them break through their (virtual) reality and find the promised land on the other side.

Adéla Součková (1985) lives and works in Prague and Berlin. In 2014, she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague at the studios of Vladimír Skrepl and Jiří Kovanda and from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Dresden. Already during her studies, Součková found a specific signature style and thematic scope, shifting from painting to spatial realizations, performance and video, while her current projects are mostly a synthesis of several or all of these positions. She held solo exhibitions at the Zwitschermaschine Gallery in Berlin (2016), Panel Gallery in Prague (2015), Kostka Gallery at MeetFactory in Prague (2016) and Okazi Gallery in Berlin (2013). She participated in collective exhibitions on both the independent and the institutional scene in the Czech Republic and internationally: MWW Wroclaw, Lage Egal Berlin, Brno House of Arts, National Gallery in Prague, Armaturka in Ústí nad Labem among others.

Plus size models vs. the Über-Venus

What is the true potential of having a vagina in the post-digital era? Perhaps dressing up in a suit and heading to play the patriarchal game isn’t the best strategy if a woman, or whoever feels like one, wants to make full use of their femininity in the best sense of the word (the kind we might actually need to restore some global equilibrium). Employing male tactics in order to gain more power in the Darwinist hierarchy, where women are assigned to have smaller teeth (and brains) than men, proved to be a blind alley: you may become a CEO, but there is quite a chance that you will still get less paid than your male colleagues and on top of that remain doing the majority of the undervalued house and care work. Although having the doors hypothetically open to most institutions of the modern society, you might get your butt spanked (oops!) when passing those. It feels like a losing game, even if you have the balls to play it. And after all, it’s not only women who keep on losing.

Adéla’s colleagues told her that prehistoric Venuses are absolutely anti-feminist and so is bringing them back to life in contemporary art. Is it really though? Of course, these are pure fertility symbols emphasizing features most essential to reproduction. Their heads or toes are not exactly important here. But aren’t these tiny little sculptures actually quite powerful, not only for being some of the oldest artworks ever created? Why should we assume that depicting women through their female attributes automatically underestimates their other capacities? These busty ladies don’t seem to me like dull factories for baby production, neither like mere objects that would allow for inappropriate manipulation. They are so extremely present and strong, that by no means they could be avoided or mistreated. I wouldn’t dare to underrate any of their abilities, although one has to admit that their sexuality is obviously tops.

What is it then, that makes their image somewhat uncomfortable? In a way it’s a pity that for the feminist discourse almost every depiction of a (naked) woman that has appeared throughout art history up to today’s visual culture became a symbol of female degradation, as she was more often on the canvas than in front of it with a brush in her hand, or shaking her ass on the screen rather than filming or even just keeping the remote control. Of course it is a notorious fact that women have been excluded from holding the reins in this world for a lot of the history of humankind and their bodies have been objectified in countless ways. That quite culminates in capitalist marketing strategies of selling the perfect body, which “naturally” comes with the perfect purse, perfect shoes and a variety of toys to play with (at points including men), all designed to appear as emancipatory while just promoting a twisted image of (sexual) freedom, which in fact is quite conformist.

But feigned emancipation most probably wasn’t the case of the Venuses – which only proves that there needn’t be a direct causality between the display of female features and holding them cheap. Perhaps we should aim for rehabilitating their value and challenging their misconceptions in the current system. Boobs, vaginas and proper bottoms and belies should regain symbolic power in contemporary society. And here I don’t really imagine a plus-size model on a catwalk (although even that can be cool if the only aim isn’t to sell some Victoria’s Secret lingerie). Having those and using them wisely should restore the female capacity to create solid grounds for respect and potency, while contributing to diminishing unhealthy hierarchies and tiring gender battles. For in the end we urgently need all the sexes in their best shape, in order to manage to calm down the Gaia – the Über-Venus, whom we have been mistreating for centuries. She’s definitely both intelligent and potent enough to get rid of the silly creatures that ruffle her feathers, as they cannot find an agreement among themselves. She will remain a tiny yet powerful fertility symbol in the orgiastic universe, whether or not we will still be a part of her. If we wish to stay, we might want to reestablish some balance between our vaginas, penises, brains, senses and emotions, using all the funny toys we have created throughout history not just to keep messing around, but to actually attempt to get somewhere sustainable, and ideally also pleasurable.

Karina Kottová