Jana Hojstričová – Exposition

The photographic work of Jana Hojstričová

Gallery Sýpka, Valašské Meziříčí

Introductory word: Bohunka Koklesová

Exhibition architect: Marcel Benčík

Collaboration on glass objects: Palo Macho

The photographic work of Jana Hojstričová is installed in the Sýpka Gallery on several floors, in the spaces that divide the exhibition into details, while together they form one whole. It is connected mainly by the content level, as well as the method of photographic image processing. It is therefore not for nothing that the name of the exhibition is the word Exposition. In some ways, this word is universally complex, because it runs into many artistic and scientific disciplines, it has paved sidewalks into the world of metaphors and comparisons. However, the exact understanding of the word exposition is characteristic of the author's work in recent years. Her artistic work is naturally based on the understanding of this word in photographic practice (the time of exposure of the light-sensitive layer), but also systematically on many natural disciplines that allow for various forms of exposure, ie exposures to what the researcher examines, verifies or evaluates. They can be various types of exposure, radiation, medical examinations, but also weather conditions.

When thinking about the work of Jana Hojstričová, I constantly think of the word locality. In her case, the exposition and the locality are interconnected, both words are safely settled in the environment of natural sciences, while the author works with them creatively and thoughtfully at the same time.

By locality, naturalists understand the location of rare habitats, fossils, plants or animals; at the same time, their locality of origin is exactly listed in the records of collections in labels and on registration cards. The locality is part of the descriptions of plants in botanical gardens, greenhouses with foreign plants, or an arboretum where scientific and educational activities are carried out. However, the photographer's private garden can also be a locality, which provides enough space and vegetation for their long exposure. Several "contact" photographs are created by applying plants to a light-sensitive substrate.

In almost every part of the exhibition there are photographs that report on the form of museum collections, plants from botanical and other gardens, and at the same time the author notices the ways of registration, storage and archiving of individual natural science collections. I guess her inclination to this issue has its origins in her childhood, when she collected stones, fossils, and medicinal plants. This basic basis, which forms such a natural foundation of the author, has been supplemented in recent years by something called "artistic research" in today's practice. It is based on non-artistic knowledge, a kind of specific kind of research, which is so inspiring that it naturally "floats" into the creative artistic process. In the case of Jana Hosjtričová, it is precisely the scientific museum collections that she photographs in various localities, but also in the institutions themselves. However, the added value of the work is also its thinking about the beginnings of the development of photography. The author is very well aware that photography, after its patenting in 1839, served mainly for the needs of scientific and medical practice as a fast and very reliable record of scientific experiments. It is a kind of reactivation of this context, together with experimentation in the field of historical photographic techniques, rediscovery of museum collections brings a very specific form of art process, which in its form constantly challenges the common ways of working with photography and its adjustment.

In the individual parts of the exhibition, the author shows endless rows of record cabinets, details as well as units of various plants and animals. For the author, these motifs are only a starting point, because she continues to work with them in such a way that she goes beyond the scope of documenting collections, not only by choosing a shot, composition, or a combination of object and space. Simply museum culture, but also the historical-photographic context become the basis for work within the installation, the author is interested in the role of aesthetics in this process. Despite the enormous number of shots from individual locations, the installation itself is a space where the artistic aspirations of the work are fulfilled. A very special combination of photographs from various localities and gardens in various technical designs and installations exceeds the limits of the registration of artifacts towards the art environment. Interpretation, context, experiment - all this is the basic manuscript of the author.

In the exhibition called Exposition, several photographs are installed in laboratory tables, some photographs of plants are applied to large panes of glass, which often complement smaller glasses resembling micrographs or laboratory glass, as well as large contact photographs of sepia-colored plants. A completely unique installation, referring to medical photography, is a monumental fragment of the body captured by a thermal imager. Here, the body changes into a kind of topographic formation with its own body architecture. Part of this exhibition is also a laboratory table with digital photography of the human body and with petri dishes with a downloaded emulsion of analog photography in the form of human skin.

Finally, it may be good to realize another context. Many artifacts stored in the collections of science museums are evidence of past life on our planet. At a time of climate change, ecological problems, the extinction of many plants and animals, the exhibition of Jana Hojstričová will not be possible without this consideration. The space on our planet is constantly shrinking, its ever-changing form is determined by man and his activity. Museum collections may be the only location where we will be able to study nature from before the Anthropocene. And maybe one more note. Most of humanity today lives in cities and learning about nature takes place through museum exhibitions, digital interactive exhibits. Jana Hojstričová's exhibition is not a critical reflection on this state, but rather a report on how to be with museum collections through art.

Bohunka Koklesová
September, 2021

Jana Hojstričová has been active on the Slovak art scene since the end of the 1990s. In the beginning, her work was devoted to the subjective depiction of the intimacy of man, mostly women, later her work was anchored in the sociological understanding of work, she was interested in the position of women in the family and society. Her significant projects included a set of photographs of her own family, which she recorded in an objective and non-subjective way. Through the study of historical photographic techniques, her attention gradually began to turn towards the natural sciences, museum culture and experimentation with photographic techniques. In recent years, they have been collaborating as an author duo with the glass artist Palo Mach. In this field, they managed to carry out several successful experiments in the field of applying photography to glass, their joint work was presented at several international exhibitions.