An Application for a Perfect Being

The exhibition reflects the phenomena of self-actualisation, emancipation and individualism as social accomplishments of the Western society. Simultaneously, they place a high demand on individuals in the world of media competition for audience attention.

Curator: Peter Tajkov

Exhibition Architect: Matej Gavula

Artists: Katarína Bajkayová, Peter Cako, Radovan Čerevka, Dávid Demjanovič, Jana Mikle,  Matúš Lányi, Leonard Lelák, Viki Lengyelová, Erik Sikora

Uncovering different perspectives of viewing a subject in the atmosphere of the present-day individualistic hypermodern society is the theme that our exhibition at Medium gallery in Bratislava aims to grasp. Centre of our attention is occupied by individual man experiencing dynamic processes of self-emancipation and self-actualization, which are both a privilege and a burden for him. The growing trend towards diversity of artist self-selection techniques and unprecedented technical possibilities of "self-creation" (man as the author of his own works as well as the creation of his SELF) poses a risk of decline in the social context of self-determination. The exhibition presents partial works in a unifying exposition of individual narratives dealing with strict self-identification as well as (chymére) the essence of the so-called authentic SELF, social patterns projection, mythology, and developing individual’s profile under pressure of accelerated economic, technological, and political changes. 

The concept of the exhibition develops around the topic of subject’s identity in the hypermodern society (mainly dealt with by G. Lipovetski). From the ethical point of view, every single human life is a gift from God (R. Dworkin) and the secularized form makes it a great opportunity for its full use and achievement of goals. Paradoxically, at a time of hyper-mediality and global communication, various social anamneses arise related to the lack of social contact and isolation of an individual. The exhibition reflects the phenomena of self-actualisation, emancipation and individualism as social accomplishments of the Western society. Simultaneously, they place a high demand on individuals in the world of media competition for audience attention. Where does the emancipation of "my" SELF and the search for my "own path" go in the world which is increasingly distrustful of unifying ideologies or elites? This includes a rationality crisis, floundering between science and charlatanism, therapy culture and all is actualised in the over-networked society full of paradoxes and ambivalence.

The project attempts (sometimes also with exaggerated irony) to answer questions personally raised by artists by presenting their own "solution", i.e. by accentuating the exposure of individuals to their own destiny in different ways, such as spatial anabasis of simulated temptation of human body and senses in a lab, wellness or in an artfair. The areas of artistic interest of exhibiting authors are broad, ranging from reflection of personality as a product of socialization, coping with the dictation of social patterns projection, conventions and demands on how to look or act to self-promotion and medialization.

The exhibition presents various generational layers - from the established middle-generation up to the youngest emerging artists. Radovan Čerevka (1980) represents the middle generation. His work titled Among the Demigods (2021) is based on his current work exploring a kind of dystopian vision of a post-human body. He presents his own construct that deals with various formal inspirations remarkably synthesizing the language of archaeological artifacts, mysticism of super-human and marketing strategies of nutrition supplement manufacturers. David Demjanovič (1985) presents a high relief titled Self-Portrait as a Dragonslayer (2021). His work refers to hypermodern man’s escape into the world of multimedia entertainment by combining myths, fantasy, or Christian iconography. It points out serious identification of adults with TV show and video games protagonists (e.g., GOT). Matúš Lányi (1981) presents a video titled #alexa #siri #googleassistant #theholytrinity (2021). This is an attempt at dialogue between the online voice assistants Alexa, Siri, and Google. These assistants autonomously answer questions of faith, gender, and individual existential anxieties. Erik Sikora (1986) presents himself in his strongest genre of video essay titled Syncope (2021) tailored exclusively for this exhibition. Its leitmotiv is his own incarnation in a character of pandemic pseudo-messiah healing the society by propagating new musical phenomena. Similarly as before, Sikora expresses a hyper-creative individuality playfully mastering goals in a DIY manner. Katarína Bajkaová (1994) and Jana Mikle (1992) represent the incoming generation of female artists born in the 1990s. Baikajová creates an allusion to environment in which the water element acts not only as an archetypical creator of form, but also a physical harmony mediator, which she presents in her subversive video installation titled WATSU (2020). 

In her object installation complemented with drawings titled Smart Tools (2018), Mikle explores the ever-increasing relationship between human body and machines. Not only does it raise questions about nature of this kind of relationship, but also about switching their roles in the upcoming era of transhumanism. Thus, she arrives at conclusion of blurred boundaries between the physical and mechanical in the hope of better future SELF. Leonard Lelák (1995) presents two sculptural works. The first one is the result of his search for the ideal shape of a biomorphic germ form while the second object may represent rather its more ironic opposite. 

The last two artists are still students. One of them, Viki Lengyelová (1994) presents a muted form of artistic reflection on her place in the society through fragile figures in her plaster pictures or reliefs. It deals with two aspects of an artist – individual. On the one hand, in the pursuit of self-identification in the outside world (Line 2021), but on the other hand, in isolated forms as a denial of her own identity in the name of an ideal artwork.  The last participant in the exhibition is Peter Cako (1993). Not only did his work titled An Application for a Perfect Being (2018) inspire our project but it also lent the title to the whole exhibition. This is a remarkable example of authorial mystification. Cako divided his own individuum into several autonomous identities. In this work, he himself acts as an institution/office, to which he turns in the next part of his identity in order to apply for a perfect being – the so-called BJD (Ball-Jointed Doll) to find a girlfriend for "non-human" social interaction. All this is then framed by himself, the character of creator, who seems to record the whole process from the outside.

The exhibition thus presents different approaches of the artists who are native of or temporarily living in the city of Košice, however, currently with much wider range of activity reaching at least to the whole space of Czechoslovakia. Therefore, it is not only an insight into artistic works created in the specific Košice environment, but it is also a sample of independent and in many ways a mature generational statement. With this exhibition we are attempting to apply a reverse dynamic of traditional impulses, in which the non-hierarchical approach to novice artists has an enriching influence on thinking of the established ones and art theorists.

Tajkov - Čerevka