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Indepth Arts News:

"Julius Koller, Jiri Kovanda"
2006-06-07 until 2006-09-10
Index - Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation
Stockholm, , SE

Julius Koller (born 1939, working in Bratislava) and Jiri Kovanda (born 1953, working in Prague) are two artists long active on the European art scene but never before shown in Sweden. The Index exhibition focuses on the performance aspects of their art, following a tradition of employing small gestures and displacements in the common everyday; in contrast, for example, to the Vienna scene’s expressive practice during the 60s.

Central to Július Koller complex art is the concept of the sign, most apparent in his foremost emblem, the question mark, but also utilised in text or combinations of letters, e.g. when the artist designates/ denominates an object or a situation, an act aiming to inscribe it in a cultural context. The actual, non-fictive, action is often termed a ‘cultural situation’ and is also central. Koller’s actions are conceptual, yet they always take place in a reality. Much of Július Koller´s work contains various references to sport. In this context, sport represents a society or a situation based on rules that apply to everyone and includes ‘fair play’. For the Index exhibition, Július Koller presents ‘Stockholm Cultural Situation’ – a performance where the artist plays table tennis with himself.

Jirí Kovanda´s performance work takes place in public space, without a stage and often without an audience. Since the mid-70s he has made small incursions into what we perceive as normal behaviour by inserting an element of uncertainty. In a performance dating from September 1977, he walks down a sidewalk in Prague and bumps into people, seemingly unintentionally. In other works, he does not feature himself but makes installations and ‘interventions’ in ephemeral material such as salt or leaves. The observer finds himself in a situation that is open to various interpretations and possibilities. Through methods that are as minimal and poetic as they are down to earth, Jirí Kovanda provides an alternative view on our surroundings. Jirí Kovanda’s new work for Index, ‘Untitled’, is an intervention being performed by the artist on the roof of the art hall.

The works of Koller and Kovanda leave important contributions to a current discussion on artistic strategies and has recently been receiving an increasing attention. In addition to the new work by the artists, the exhibition also contains around thirty works from the mid-60s to the present day.

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