Roman Ondák: Across That Place
Roman Ondák: Across That Place
Opening: Tuesday, September 16, 2008, 7 p.m.
Exhibition runs: September 17 to November 22, 2008
From September 17 to November 22, 2008, Galerie Martin Janda is showing Across That Place, Roman Ondák’s second solo exhibition.
The seemingly simple, white cube in the first space is one of the show’s central pieces: A narrow, horizontal cut extends along the cube’s walls. Visitors to the show may enter the cube and walk around it. The slit, incised at a level corresponding Ondák’s height, could be taken for a trace left behind by the artist. In Path (2008) Roman Ondák unites aspects which play a role in all of the works in this show, such as the displacement of people and places, and engaging the themes presence and absence, as well as time.
The latter turns up, for example, in His Affair with Time (2003): Like many parents before him, Ondák documented his young son’s growth over a number of years by making marks on a door frame. The two photos appear to be identical: They were taken just a few minutes apart in the artist’s front hall, showing the same view of his apartment. By duplicating the image he emphasizes the passage of time: the intervals between the different marks, and simultaneously, the ephemerality of a moment in time.
For A Visit to the City in 3000 (2008) Roman Ondák asked children from San Francisco and Bratislava to imagine how their respective cities will look in the year 3000. The children made drawings of themselves as visitors to this distant future. The drawings, mounted on two steel cables above the viewers’ heads, provide a glimpse of this young generation’s imaginary world. Snapshots from Baghdad (2007) also addresses representation and imagination: A single-use camera containing an undeveloped roll of film is on display in a vitrine atop a white pedestal. What the photos are of, who took them, and whether they were in fact taken in Baghdad are questions which go unanswered.
In New Territories (2005) Ondák asked a curator who was about to depart on a voyage on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing to hand out bogus calling cards (listing “Siberian Street” as the artist’s address) to passengers who board the train. The work plays with the widely held notion that “the East” is new territory to be discovered and conquered for economic gain.
The video Insiders (2008) shows seven women walking through San Francisco wearing their clothing inside out. How they differ from other pedestrians is not evident at first glance. Once it becomes apparent that their seams are showing, the viewer might assume that they know each other and are all heading to the same spot. But their paths do not cross. This work is a highly specific mapping of a small section of the city, representative of other places – which we occupy as individuals and in relation to other persons.
On the gallery’s lower level we are showing Concealed Episode (2007). Miami has been the major draw for Cuban emigrés since the early 1960s. Ondák’s film shows a parachutist of Cuban descent above South Beach, where a group of his compatriots marks the landing spot with four firing flares. These images are accompanied by a monologue of the parachutist which was recorded a few hours after his jump.
On view on the gallery’s upper level is Across That Place (2008), an installation whose different parts all refer to an event which Roman Ondák held at the Panama Canal – at a site formerly known as Panama Canal Zone which just until recently had been under the control of the USA. Ondák’s team handed out invitations requesting the residents to come to the Canal to skip stones together.