Kateřina Vincourová: Arteria
27 January 2018 – 11 March 2018
Washington, DC, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW | Washington, DC
curator: Karina Kottová
assistant curator: Barbora Ciprová
The exhibition of Kateřina Vincourová, who was the first woman to receive the Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 1996, presents a cross-section of the artist’s recent works. The commodified body and consumer goods play an important role in Vincourová’s practice, besides the poetics of domesticity and passing materials traditionally linked to a “woman’s” world. The artist creates monumental compositions as well as minute realizations which strongly communicate both with the architecture of the exhibition space and with the physical closeness of the viewers. The exhibition focuses on the fragile nuances of interpersonal relations while abstracting itself from these terms towards the exploration of space and time. Vincourová’s work thus becomes a holistic system; an extensive spatial drawing rather than a collection of individual objects.
Artery is a blood vessel that distributes blood high in oxygen from the heart to all parts of the body. A major route of life and love. It sounds poetic to name an exhibition after it, suggesting a stream (of physical matter or thoughts), a network of interconnected principles, which is both vital and potent. However, let’s not forget that arteries are also spheres where conflicting and unhealthy contemporary lifestyles are embodied, clogging the flow and leading to disease and deterioration. The human body is a perfect, but nowadays also highly polluted system, just as the larger environment it inhabits. When blood cannot flow smoothly through just a tiny path of the micro- and macrocosmic mesh of living matter, human and interspecies relationships, natural and artificial systems, the lack of oxygen can cause the entire apparatus to collapse. At least for those who need to breathe…
Kateřina Vincourová’s work reveals its connection with the poetics of the human body and its immediate environment at the first glance. Fleshly colors, bone-like structures, body parts and the ephemera surrounding them create fragile yet monumental compositions, which will rarely go all the way to abstraction. Vincourová fragments her motifs into seemingly isolated parts of a highly sophisticated vocabulary, where a hand is placed too far to be able to reach out for a comb and attempt to brush the viewer’s hair. However, the tension thus created might become stronger than actual touch. The aesthetically pleased and slightly disturbed viewer may begin discovering the somewhat sneaky invisible wires between all the pieces, which will quietly yet persistently attempt to wrap her inside the artist’s imaginative web. The vessels begin to squeeze and the blood flow slows down. Breathing becomes harder.
Throughout her entire practice, Vincourová has addressed now “hot” topics of ecology, consumption, femininity, domesticity, the (im)possibilities of communication, or artificiality. Her recent works, exhibited here, are no less critical in such respects than their predecessors from the late nineties and onwards. Today, however, the artist’s language has faintly transformed in order to discuss the complexities and double-sidedness of these issues in most contemporary terms. The artist recalls that what is being sold to us as a flawless system is rotting from the inside. A wannabe perfect body, a wannabe perfect world keeps on failing to hide the trouble we find ourselves in. We can keep looking on the bright side only until the oxygen still flows.