ZAHORIAN & VAN ESPEN, BRATISLAVA (SK)
I’m entering the gallery. The objects I see and their arrangement resembles the interior of the living space. I’ll slow down but I’ll squint my eyes and try to look at everything with my third eye. I find myself entering only recently abandoned Sabbath. Glowing coals are still on the ground, smoke is still rising from the hot ash. The objects of clay pop up like the chalices from which the magic drink was drunk. From the walls, I am attracted by fanciful figures that are not human, nor animal or plant, but all together. The ubiquitous archaic symbol is dominated by the protective signs hung at the entrance to the ritual. From the place where the fire burned, a girl’s face suddenly looks at me …
I open my eyes, going back to “reality”. Yes, maybe my idea was a bit exaggerated. And anyway – why again articulate the magical aspect in works by Anežky Hošková and Nik Timková? The actual form and visual-haptic quality of the present works encourage analysis and concentration. The combination of materials and art techniques elegantly united by earthy colour, can oppress (!) our view and make us purely aesthetic contemplation. By rationality and suspicion of the “non-scientific” trained mind of the modern European, has often the tendency to interpret pre-eminent themes as a simple semantic ornament that is attractive but ordinary in its inability to offer us insight into the “real” life and practical issues we face every day. Only dreamers and strangers can take it seriously.
Referring to magic, mysticism, and witchcraft can be reverse, irrational, unproductive. The mainstream culture is constantly commodifying and weakening the character of a witch, whether by infantilising it (eg in series and comics for teenagers or in the infamous cosmetic package “Starter Witch Kit” by Sephora) or by demonising and referring to the sphere of fantasy and horror. However, as Silvia Federici instructed us with her impressive interpretation in Caliban and the Witch, and as other examples from feminist theory or art or activism show us, the rehabilitation of a witch figure from a historical perspective and the re-evaluation of the duality of rational and magical thinking can now have a significant socio-emancipatory impact.
Was there any magic ritual in the gallery during the exhibition preparation? Yes, and no, but literal is not essential. Anežka Hošková and Nik Timková generally confront us with their work with the representation of these topics, taken with utmost seriousness, creating a space for reflection on the social ties and hierarchy in which we live.
I close my eyes again. The girl’s face looks at me from the ashes and reminds me that real people, especially real women, were burned at the stakes. It reminds me of a history of oppression that persists in many forms. She invites me to become a scholar of this “ashes school”, she has been guided by her mind and heart, rising up like a phoenix to a new life!