Examines themes, concepts and cultural fictions
dealing with environment and ecology
321E 73RD STREET, BET. 1ST AND 2ND AVENUE
JUNE 26, 2013 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2013
OPENING: JUNE 25, 2013, 6:30PM – 8:30PM
Matej Al-Ali (CZ), Silvina Arismendi (Uruguay), Mark Dion (USA), Petr Dub (CZ), Mathias Kessler (USA), Tomas Moravec (CZ), Because We Want It (USA), Anne Percoco(USA), Katerina Seda (CZ), Klara Sumova (CZ), and Slavoj Zizek (Slovenia)
Dinner Garden: Vita Chase, Slavka Petrova, Marek Soltis, Filip Trcka, Nicole and Jan Zahour
Curated by Kristyna and Marek Milde
The exhibition project Poison Green interrogates and study the complexity of our environment. Rather than painting green and romanticizing nature, the artists and concepts, presented in the exhibition, examines the consequences of the urban, post-industrial, and virtualized reality we live in. It seeks to demystify the ideologies inherent in our understanding of nature, reflecting on conventions and stereotypes, and looking for possible environmental models socially integrated into our daily lives and culture.
The exhibition Poison Green is incorporated in a series of installations and visuals that extends from the gallery of the Bohemian National Hall to its rooftop, where a community garden project Diner Garden accompanying the show is installed. Here participants and visitors have the opportunity to experience the process of how to grow food just enough food for one dish.
Supported by the, Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York, Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association,
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and the Vermont Compost Company.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION POISON GREEN
Rather than painting green and romanticizing nature, the artists and concepts, presented in Poison Green interrogate and study the complexity of our environment, examining the consequences of the urban, post-industrial, and virtualized reality we live in. Ultimately, Poison Green seeks to demystify the ideologies inherent in our understanding of nature, reflecting on conventions and stereotypes, and looking for possible enviro models socially integrated into our daily lives and culture.
The exhibition’s name refers to the story of the once-popular emerald green color known as Paris green or poison green, which owes its beauty to the highly toxic arsenic pigment. Utilized to dye cloth and Victorian wallpapers, and favored by the Impressionist painters to represent nature,
Pioneered by environmentalists and marginalized for decades, today ecology is a hot topic in mainstream culture and media. The ongoing changes in the environment are forcing the developed world to an awareness of the consequences of its comfortable life and the realization that the environmental impacts of industrial society and the limitless exploitation of natural resources needs to be addressed.
Yet, as going green has become popular, politicians and corporations have adopted a new eco-vocabulary—“food miles,” “ecological debt,” “carbon footprint”—to serve their interests, confusing sincere environmental efforts with greenwashed agendas and eco-chic. Meanwhile, in our own lives, the question arises of what we as individuals can do.
Taking on the role of scientists, environmentalists, social workers, and teachers, the artists and participants presented in Poison Green explore the environment viewed through a multi-layered lens of culture and nature. Several of the artists adopt the methods of investigative research and apply them to topics such as energy, building methods, design, food production, science, social and educational models, etc. Unlike a scientific thesis, however, they convey their message through visual representations and metaphors, critically reviewing green approaches with an artistic sensibility that contributes a unique insight to the green discourse. While no pragmatic solutions and “correct” resolutions are claimed, the unconventional approach of these artists brings a new perspective to the way the fields of science, social studies, and politics understand the environment.
The exhibition Poison Green is incorporated in a series of installations and visuals that extends from the gallery of the Bohemian National Hall to its rooftop, where a community garden project accompanying the show is installed. Here participants and visitors have the opportunity to experience the process of how to grow just enough food for one dish.
The contemporary controversy over humans’ relationship to Nature recalls the video of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek from the film Examined Life (2007) by Astra Taylor. Talking against the backdrop of a garbage heap, Zizek emphasizes the psychological meaning of ecology, which he sees as a new manifestation of ideology and religion. “Nature does not exist,” he asserts, except in our idealized view of Nature as a balanced organism. In his view Nature is actually a series of unimaginable catastrophes that we are evolutionarily not wired to understand. Paradoxically he calls for the even greater alienation of humanity from Nature, so that we may perceive and understand it, abandoning our cultural and ideological understanding so that we may grasp its inherent integral and spiritual aspects.
The effect of our idealization of Nature is visible the moment we enter the exhibition space of Poison Green and lay eyes on Wonder Tree (2013), a sculpture by Silvina Arismendi using 400 artificially scented car fresheners. The pervasive chemical smell of a pine produced by the iconic tree-shaped car fresheners reveals the absurdity of the notion of connecting to nature via artificial means.
Mark Dion also explores the controlling of nature with chemicals in his piece Flit (2000), from the exhibition project Museum of Poison, in which Dion presented cabinets containing some of the most notorious biocides (herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides). In his attractive modern display case, there is a disjoint between the dangerous and deadly material and its consumable, seductive presentation. Flit, an early pesticide used to kill mosquitos, explores the human alteration of ecologies and the destruction of the interconnection of natural cycles. In his drawing Weed World(1999), weeds seem to escape the control of a human hand, with their overgrowth of ruins and cultural remains pose a problem but also suggest the return of Nature.
What appears to be a ghost town in the midst of picturesque sand dunes in Mathias Kessler’spanoramic photograph of Picher 08 (2011), from Oklahoma, is in fact a farmland that was turned in to a desert by mining. In a second work, Die Gescheiterte Hoffnung (2012)— a refrigerator whose freezer contains a 3D model replicating the landscape from the painting Das Eismeer (1823) by Caspar David Friedrich — Kessler provides a humorous and melancholic comment on the global problem of deglaciating polar ice caps. The fridge is stocked with Coors Light Beer, a brand that uses the image of glaciers to sell its product. Exhibition visitors are encouraged to help themselves to a beverage and engage in conversation, in the spirit of the Austrian tradition of Stammtisch, where local communities get together, have a beer, discuss politics, local problems, and life in general. The constant opening and closing of the refrigerator door slowly leads to the 3D model being covered with a layer of ice, in what is commonly referred to as “freezer burn”, transforming it into the Eismeer (Arctic Sea) of Friedrich’s painting.
Unfreezing a community is one of the main themes in the work of Katerina Seda, which approaches the environment as a social space and laboratory in which she can observe, study, and transform the landscape in collaboration with its inhabitants. For There is Nothing There (2003), Seda convinced the entire village of Ponetovice, with its 350 residents, to change the geography of their life by engaging in the same tasks at the same time for a whole day. Suddenly, mundane activities such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping — typically perceived as insignificant, “nothing” — were transformed into special collective events.
The photograph series Trail of Courage (2012), by artist collaborative Tomas Moravec, Petr Dub andMatej Al-Ali, presents an intervention in the Prague suburban village Psáry – Dolní Jirčany. The piece takes the form of an interpretative path that meanders through the village, addressing issues of the Czech landscape’s rapid urbanization. Points of interests feature quotations from selected texts on theories of contemporary urbanism and situational analysis, confronting the two virtually separate worlds: the reality of the village inhabitants, and professional urban theory.
Anne Percoco explores building, dwellings, and recycling in Weather Shield for a Migrant Dwelling(2009–13). The silver hut she built in the gallery is a recreation of the site-specific installation in Partapur, India. During her Sandarbh artist residency, Percoco created a protective outer layer for the house of a migrant family in Partapur, which was used for more than a year. Composed of salvaged foil linings from plastic wrappers found in the trash, the covering reflects its immediate surroundings, and continues to reflect any place the family chooses to relocate.
Industrial designer Klara Sumova examines design that is responsive to consumerism and eco-chic in her P & F ( papers and fabrics ) 2013, Do-It-Yourself project. Instead of creating another “green” novelty object to be further commodified, Sumova distributes renderings and plans for how to make objects of daily use from recycled materials, presenting the process as a workshop.
Special Edition of the New York Times (2009), by the Because We Want It artist and activist collaborative, was a 14-page New York Times replica distributed in 80,000 copies announcing the end of the Iraq War and fictional news about ideals transforming society. In this ideal world, large corporations like Exxon announced their conversion to renewable energy.
In the corner of the gallery you will find a large wooden worktable with benches serving as a presentation platform and gathering space of the project titled Dinner Garden, a community garden project taking place on the rooftop of the Bohemian National Hall. Poison Green curators Kristyna and Marek Milde invited a group of people associated with the Bohemian National Hall to experience the process of growing just enough food for one dish. Their starting point was the question “If we are what we eat, then who are we if we don’t know the origin and the context of the production of our food?” Dinner Garden is a workshop and think tank examining the concepts and the culture of eating, cooking, and food production as a realm in which our identity and relationships to the environment are established.
Made in collaboration with: Michaela Boruta, Vita Chase, Slavka Petrova, Marek Soltis, Filip Trcka, Nicole and Jan Zahour
Kristyna and Marek Milde, New York, 2013
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Trail of Courage, 2012
12 digital photographs on foam board, information papers, screws, project plan
Since November 2012, a permanent artistic intervention called Trail of Courage has been open in the Prague suburb village Psárny – Dolní Jirčany. The trail, devoted to the issue of “settlement jumble”, resulted from the creative collaboration of Matěj Al-Ali, Petr Dub and Tomas Moravec. It is a part of the project Cultural Acupuncture Treatment for Suburb which intends to activate the social space of the suburbs of five European cities (Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Prague and Vienna) through “acupunctural interventions”. The Trail of Courage consists of twelve stops located in accessible areas of the village, and is shaped according to the classic format of nature trails. However, individual stops do not offer a description of historical monuments or natural phenomena. Instead they copy the local disposition of a “typical urban satellite”. Through the publication of quotations from selected texts on theories of contemporary urbanism and situational analysis, they reflect the development of suburbanization in the Czech Republic after 1989. By its form, the trail mediates the confrontation of two virtually separate worlds – the reality of the village inhabitants and the professional urban theory.
Petr Dub graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno and is a PhD student in the Studio of Intermedia alongside Václav Stratil. His works play with shapes, industrial production and found subjects and are always executed in a precise and mesmerizing way. Petr Dub is a finalist of the prestigious Sovereign European Art Prize Award 2010 of the Barbican Centre in London, Exit Award 2009, Start Point Award 2009 and others.
Tomáš Moravec earned his Master’s degree at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague in 2012.He has received fellowships from Visegrad Artist Residence Program (VARP) in Budapest (2011) and New York (2013). His work has been presented in central European venues, including Kunstraum Bethanien/Kreuzberg, Berlin (2010), Brno House of Arts (2011), FKSE Studio, Budapest (2011), National Gallery Prague (2012) and Gallery+/-0, Žilina (2013). He was a finalist of Jindřich Chalupecký Award (2008), Exit Prize (2009) and Youth Salon Zlín (2012). He lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic.
Silvina Arismendi (Uruguay)
Wonder Tree, 2013
33 x 20 inches, 400 car fresheners, steel
Silvina Arismendi, a multi-directional artist, often uses a strategy of minor interventions in reality. She delights in developing situations that allow her to communicate directly with her audience.
The installation called Wonder Tree is made with 400 pieces of perfumed car freshener trees. The car freshener is sold to represent a reminiscence of nature in the mechanical space of a vehicle. But there is nothing natural in the shape or in the overwhelming smell. It is an artificial construct filled with synthetic chemicals.
Silvina Arismendi was born in 1976 in Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2000, she received a scholarship to study in the Czech Republic, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 2007. Since 2003, she has exhibited in many European cities, as well as in Latin America. In 2007 she founded galería parásito/, which is a platform for the cultural exchange between Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
pedestal, glass bottle, plastic bottle with label, liquid Flit
52 1/4 x 12 x 12 inches; 133 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm
Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Weed World, 1999
colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist, and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Mark Dion explores and examines nature as a human construct by combining methods of art and science to review the historical role of museums, collectors and dominant ideologies in shaping the cultural and historical understanding of the natural world. As part of his art practice, Dion has thought deeply and systematically about animals. He has made issues of extinction and loss of biological diversity central to his work since the 1980s.
The FLIT, an early chemical poison used to kill mosquitos, explores the human impact on altering ecologies and destroying interconnection of natural cycles. FLIT was part of Dion’s Museum of Poison exhibition, an archive into the quietly vicious battle to control nature through agricultural pesticides. Dion presented cabinets containing some of the most notorious biocides – herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. In the attractive modern vitrine, there is a disjoint between the dangerous and deadly material and its consumable, seductive presentation. Here poison becomes a metaphor for a museum’s ability to contextualize the subject matter it contains, as well as referring to our culture’s desire for instant gratification and overly simplified solutions for complex problems.
The drawing Weed World is part of a larger installation which focuses on invading species, in particular weeds. Mark Dion has created several works over the years that address invasive species that upset the native ecology of a region. Many of the plants that are considered “weeds” were introduced to an area through human action – aboard ships or other modes of transport, or used for particular purposes that are no longer desired. Later, the plants may prevail over local species for food and habitat, and / or pose a threat to native populations. Weed World addresses this environmental dilemma, and calls attention to the delicate balance within ecosystems at global and local scales.
Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1961. He received a BFA (1986) and an honorary doctorate (2003) from the University of Hartford, School of Art, Connecticut. Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. He has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001). He has had major exhibitions at Miami Art Museum (2006); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2003); and Tate Gallery, London (1999). “Neukom Vivarium” (2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park, was commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum. Dion lives and works in Pennsylvania.
Mathias Kessler (Austria/USA)
Picher 08, Oklahama, 2011
From the series “From Copernicus to Cyberspace”,
27“ x 118”, Digital C print., Diasec, face in mount on 3 mm gallery Plexi, Dibond backing and back brace.
Mathias Kessler (USA, Austria)
Das Eismeer – Die Gescheiterte Hoffnung, 2012
Fridge with freezer compartment, letters, 3D model,
Coors light beer; Edition of 3
The work of New York-based Austrian artist Mathias Kessler work often deals with strategies of the perception of nature in 19th century German Romanticism. Die gescheiterte Hoffnung is a 3D model landscape, which in fact is a replica of the painting Das Eismeer (1823) by Caspar David Friedrich, the 19th century German landscape painter whose primary interest in painting was the contemplation of nature, and the search for subjective and emotional response to the natural world. The Die gescheiterte Hoffnung is placed in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator unit which is stocked with Coors light beer. This brand uses the image of icebergs to sell its beer.
Exhibition visitors are encouraged to help themselves to a beverage and engage in conversation. This is in the spirit of the Austrian tradition of the “Stammtisch”, where local communities get together, have a beer, discuss politics, local problems, and life in general. The constant opening and closing of the refrigerator door slowly leads to the 3D model being covered with a layer of ice in what is commonly referred to as “freezer burn”, transforming it into the Eismeer (Arctic Sea) of Friedrich’s painting.
Kessler’s piece provides a humorous and melancholic comment on the global problem of de-glaciating polar ice caps. Mathias Kessler explores the concept and history of “nature” within the Western Eurocentric context of capitalism, humanism, and representation. In his works, he not only exposes the many interventions of human culture that have threatened, re-created, and shaped what nature is, but plays with our longing for an apparently untouched environment. In his photographs, computer-generated landscapes and installations Kessler works within the historical interface between the private living room and the adjoining public room of the natural order; between memory and its image; authenticity and alienation. With nuance and subtlety, he exposes the way human intervention reconstructs the natural to the point that it is just another “fiction of the 18th and 19th century” as Robert Smithson put it. In particular, he investigates the complex movement of man and nature across two important notions: natura naturans (self-creating nature) and natura naturata (created nature).
Mathias Kessler, born 1968 in Kempten, Germany. For nearly ten years Mathias Kessler has been exploring the concept and history of “nature” within the Western Eurocentric context of capitalism, humanism, and representation. In his works, he not only exposes the many interventions of human culture that have threatened, remade, and shaped what nature is, but plays with our longing for an apparently untouched environment. In his photographs, computer-generated landscapes and installations Kessler works within the historical interface between the private living room and the adjoining public room of the natural order; between memory and its image; authenticity and alienation. With nuance and subtlety, he exposes the way human intervention reconstructs the natural to the point that it is just another “fiction of the 18th and 19th century” as Robert Smithson put it. In particular, he investigates the complex movement of man and nature across two important notions: natura naturans (self-creating nature) and natura naturata (created nature).
Because We Want It – Steve Lambert, Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, along with 30 writers, 50 advisors, around 1000 volunteer distributors, CODEPINK, May First/People Link, Evil Twin, Improv Everywhere and Not An Alternative
Special Edition of the New York Times
Saturday, July 4th, 2009, edition of 80.000 copies
Special Edition of the New York Times is a fictional 14 page edition of the New York Times replica that was distributed on November twelfth, 2008 in 80.000 copies in several cities around the United States. The paper included 14 pages of “best case scenario” news set nine months in the future. It announces the end of the Iraq War and contains fictional news about ideal transformation of society. In this ideal world large corporations like Exxon announce conversion to the renewable energy: wind, solar.
Activists often take the role of critics. We march in response to current events carrying signs that say “NO ______!” “DON’T ____!” and “STOP _____!” It’s inherently reactive, negative, and critical instead of constructive and visionary. And it’s done over and over again.
After the 2008 election of Barack Obama much of the United States population was excited about the future for the first time in years. With the Special Edition, we wanted to find a way to celebrate what we wanted, rather than criticize what we didn’t. We wanted to create our own vision instead of responding to others.
One week after the election a newspaper hit the streets with the surprising headline: “IRAQ WAR ENDS”
Over 80,000 copies of this “Special Edition” of the New York Times were placed directly in commuters’ hands, free of charge, in several cities around the United States. The paper closely matched the design, look, and feel of Times in every way but for a few small details. For example:
- it was distributed in November 2008, but dated July 4, 2009
- instead of the motto “All the News That’s Fit to Print” it read “All the News We Hope to Print”
- it was free
Inside were 14 pages of “best case scenario” news that described the world as it could be eight months in the future.
The paper included World, National, Business, and Local sections with hypothetical headlines like “Maximum Wage Law Passes Congress,” ”USA Patriot Act repealed,” and “All Public Universities To Be Free.” Each story provided a fictional history of how such a thing could happen on such a timeline through grass-roots pressure using real-world details. A replica of the New York Times website mirrored the stories online and was visited by over 300,000 people in the first two days.
Because The Special Edition was a tangible newspaper it transported people to a parallel world. For a few moments, in the minds of the readers, our hopes and dreams became real news. The goal was to take readers there for fifteen seconds. For fifteen seconds people could feel what it was like to live without two ongoing wars, and to have some of their dreams become reality. For fifteen seconds, after 7 years of ongoing war, to be reminded of what it was like to have peace.
After 15 seconds there were enough clues that people could figure out what was going on. The goal of the organizers was not to have anyone feel “tricked” or the butt of a joke, but to be welcomed to an inside joke that could be shared with friends. The reaction on the street was overwhelmingly positive.
The project brought together dozens of activists in a collaborative vision of what could be possible (or just on the edge of possible) in a world where we’ve won every battle. More than an incredible, highly coordinated stunt, it was a utopian vision written in a familiar language that involved thousands of volunteers and reached around the world. It ruptured the present and vividly revealed a better world.
Steve Lambert was born in Los Angeles in 1976 and moved to the Bay Area four days later. His father, a former Franciscan monk, and mother, an ex-Dominican nun, imbued the values of dedication, study, poverty, and service to others – qualities which prepared him for life as an artist.
Steve Lambert recently made international news with the The New York Times “Special Edition,” a replica of the grey lady announcing the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other good news. He is the founder of the Anti-Advertising Agency, lead developer of Add-Art (a Firefox addon that replaces online advertising with art) and has collaborated with numerous artists including the Graffiti Research Lab, and the Yes Men.
There is Nothing There, 2003
Documentation of the urban game, bulletin board, video projection
In “There is Nothing There”, 2003 Katerina Seda convinced the entire village of Ponetovice with its 350 residence to change the geography of their life by sharing the same tasks at the same time for the whole day. The mundane activities such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. that are perceived as “nothing”, suddenly changed into a special collective event. The idea behind was to unfreeze the community and to show that even their lives can be meaningful.
Excerpt of “Rules of the Game” from There’s Nothing There:
1. There is no limit to the number of players. Recommended age 0-200.
2. All players start to play at the same time.
3. All players do the same thing for the duration of the game.
4. No one is allowed to spoil the game.
5. No one can be eliminated from the game.
6. No one wins and no one loses.
7. All players finish at the same time.
In her work Katerina Seda approaches environment and the social space as a laboratory which she observes, studies, and transforms in collaboration with its inhabitants. The common person, the neighbors, large community, or an entire village is involved in her playful projects to become players, producers and consumers of a collective experience and to journey with her in to a game of self-awareness and transformation. Katerina Seda stages interventions into the life around her she identifies as “normality”. Šedá is creating “social games” which are artistic projects that investigate a micro-society by involving its individuals. Her commitment is not limited to an artistic process. She seeks to engage in society itself by actively including social models, individuals or communities. Once the game is finalized, reimagining the documentation of the “social game” becomes the work, through which Šedá creates a dynamic installation. These experiments take place in small villages in the Czech Republic and in other places around the word. Based on rigorous research into behavior and communication patterns in both art and non-art communities, Seda has developed some poignant sociology-driven themes and spun around the truisms, production, consumption and meaning of contemporary art.
Kateřina Šedá was born 1977 in Brno, Czech Republic. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the School of Applied Arts in Brno. Her projects are mostly carried out in the area where she lives (in the countryside or the city outskirts). Šedá has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007), the Berlin Biennale (2008), the Biennale de Lyon (2009), currently she represents the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennial (2013)
Weather Shield For a Migrant Dwelling
2009 – 2013, recreation of the site-specific installation in Partapur, India, shelter built using recycled materials.
Anne Percoco created a protective outer layer for the house of a migrant family in Partapur, India during the Sandarbh Artists Workshop on site-specific art. Composed of the inner foil lining of plastic wrappers, this covering reflects their immediate surroundings, and continues to reflect any place which this family chooses to relocate. The family kept using the shelter for another year until it disintegrated. The project was sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council and Sandarbh Artists Workshop.
Anne Percoco explores the possibilities of recycling various types of materials, often engaging local communities in the process, to create an additional layer of meanings. She make art not by creating something new, but by reorganizing what’s already there. Her process is resourceful, responsive, and playful. She spends as much time exploring and researching as making the piece. She responds to the specific surroundings and uses the resources and material found there to explore the unique formal properties, as well as historical, cultural, and environmental resonances of the site.
Anne Percoco earned her M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 2008. She received fellowships or awards from the Asian Cultural Council (2008), the Vermont Studio Center (2009), A.I.R. Gallery (2010) and the Bronx Museum’s AIM Program (2012). She has presented solo shows at Chitrakala Parishath College of Fine Art (2009, Bangalore, India), A.I.R. Gallery (2011, Brooklyn), and NURTUREart (2012, Brooklyn). She lives and works in Jersey City.
P & F (papers and fabrics), 2013
Dimension variable, Recycled cardboard, fabrics, white glue, cotton string
Klara Sumova’s Do it your-self project P & F (papers and fabrics) is looking for possible prototype of a design solution which would respond to environmental issues, recycling possibilities, and bypassing the market place. She distributes renderings and plans of how to make objects of daily use from recycled materials presenting the process of its making as a workshop. She has chosen mundane pieces of furniture from the household like the shelf, the side table and the container, objects which can be used in any home to explore the possible manifestation of these objects. She likes to use raw materials and combine them with moments of human nature—allowing the details of these intimate relationships to give rise to physical form.
Klára Sunmova is an independent product and interior designer based in Prague, with works extending to the northern Czech Republic. In 2011 she graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. She has worked and studied in Stockholm, the Netherlands, Canada and Hungary, providing research experiences that continue to inform her design process. In addition to her self-initiated projects, she collaborates frequently with manufacturers, craftsmen, galleries, and various modes of production. Recent commissions include chandeliers for Preciosa, window designs for Hermés and Pietro Fillipi, ongoing contributions to lifestyle magazines, and the curation of exhibitions.
Excerpt from the film “Examined Life”
2007, by Astra Taylor
The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek in the film ”Examined Life” from 2007 by Astra Taylor presents his unusual perspective on environment and nature. On the backdrop of a garbage pile he talks about psychological meaning of ecology which he sees as new manifestation of religion. He claims “Nature does not exist”. What he means is that nature is not what we usually perceive, namely a balanced totality, but rather a series of unimaginable catastrophes. We are psychologically not wired to understand these chaotic forces; therefore he calls for even larger alienation from nature, so that we will be able to perceive nature as it is. He demands that we abandon cultural and ideological understanding of nature, in order to understand its integral and spiritual part.
Slavoj Žižek, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a visiting professor at a number of American Universities (Columbia, Princeton, New School for Social Research, New York University, University of Michigan). Slavoj Žižek recieved his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He also studied at the University of Paris. Slavoj Žižek is a cultural critic and philosopher who is internationally known for his innovative interpretations of Jacques Lacan. Slavoj Žižek has been called the ‘Elvis Presley’ of philosophy as well as an ‘academic rock star’. He is author of The Indivisible Remainder, The Sublime Object of Ideology, The Metastases of Enjoyment, Looking Awry: Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture, The Plague of Fantasies, and The Ticklish Subject. Slavoj Žižek’s work can be characterized as vibrant, full of humor, with a blatant disregard for distinctions between high and low forms of culture and his work and presence has gathered him critical acclaim as a superstar in the world of contemporary theory.
Kristyna and Marek Milde
in collaboration with Michaela Boruta, Vita Chase, Slavka Petrova,
Marek Soltis, Filip Trcka, Nicole and Jan Zahour
2013, table, two benches, photographs from the roof top garden (ongoing documentation), drawing table, diaries
“If we are what we eat, who are we if we don’t know the origin and the context of the production of our food? “
Dinner Garden is an experimental community garden project taking place on the rooftop of the Bohemian National Hall in the growing season 2013. Curators of the show Kristyna and Marek Milde invited a group of local people associated with the Bohemian National Hall to experience the process of growing just enough food for one dish. The large wooden working table with benches in the gallery serves as a presentation platform and gathering space of the project. The process of growing the food is monitored and documented in form of diaries and photographs on the wall by each participant.
Each of them chooses a favorite dish for which he or she grows the necessary ingredients. The particular plants and vegetables for each specific dish accumulate in a single garden bed of a size similar to the surface of a dining table. Finally if the gardeners are successful they will cook and share their dish.
The project Dinner Garden is based on the idea of bringing to sight the process of food production, making it possible to demonstrate to curious urbanites the process of growing food and gardening in an urban setting. It is a workshop and think tank examining the concepts and the culture of eating, cooking and food production as a realm in which identity and relationships to the environment are established.
Kristyna and Marek Milde born in Prague, Czech Republic are collaborative tandem living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Their work investigates states of identity connected to environment and cultural alienation towards nature. They have widely exhibited in the USA, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Switzerland among others in the MoMa New York, NURTURE art, Brooklyn, USA; Anna Wallace Gallery, New York, USA, Queens College Art Center, NY, USA; Futura Center for Contemporary Art and Karlin Studios, Prague, Czech Republic. Their work was reviewed in the New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, Flashart, WG News and BQE Media. In 2007 they received their MFAs at the Queens College, New York. They both work at the Czech Center NYC, a cultural institute of the Czech Republic.