Katarína Hládeková – Local Warming

This exhibition is warm, wet and pleasant like a dragon; it is a journey to the pyrocene—where we cannot be sure whether we stumble upon a firefighter or we don’t.

As a curator, I collaborated for the first time with artist Katarína Hládeková on the exhibition called “Long Slow Distance” in Košice. The title of the exhibition refers to a form of aerobic endurance training, often associated, for instance, with running. I confess that I hadn’t known this term before and it stuck in my mind so much that since then I’ve perceived the trajectory of Katarína’s life exactly through the metaphor of this running technique. Long Slow Distance training improves, among other things, cardiovascular and thermoregulatory functions of the human body. And we will learn something more about thermoregulation and heat.

The author has been studying heat and the pyrocene for several years. It is not a response to a trendy burst of interest when heat started to be “cool”. In fact, it is not so “cool” anymore or, in other words, it doesn’t reach its peak. We probably all know what does. An ex hot treatment was replaced by an ex cold treatment through cold water therapy. What has changed in thinking about heat? It is not summer, holiday and relax anymore; it is stress, global warming, fever as a result of COVID-19 disease or changed thermoregulation as a result of hormonal imbalance. But we still have pleasant feelings attached to heat. They appear after extreme activities, such as cold water therapy or sauna bathing. The body temperature of a healthy person is under 37 °C. When the body overheats, it can be healing or it can also start an inflammation. Katarína and I were no exception. We got COVID-19 at the same time, even though its course differed. The last two activities that preceded the isolation were massage and cold water therapy. Sauna bathing was not possible anymore. Right before the exhibition, we recovered from the disease.   

This exhibition has become a physical or mental guide to the “warming” phenomenon. We will see, whether it will be possible to personally experience these temperature differences. In any case, we can try mental exercises and imaginations in which we are able to run across a bed of burning wood coals and we can breathe fire. This exhibition is warm, wet and pleasant like a dragon; it is a journey to the pyrocene—where we cannot be sure whether we stumble upon a firefighter or we don’t.

Katarína Hládeková is an artist, curator, theorist and educator, but who knows for how long. She has already tried a large number of occupations, she studied Japanese, tried judo, fencing, taught English, worked for IBM and at a meat packing plant in England, she led the New Media course at the Secondary School of Art and Design and Higher Professional School Brno. Currently, she is a Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno University of Technology, participates in conducting graphic workshops and assists at the Studio KREGRA. She collaborates with the TIC Gallery, writes for Artalk and she is a member of the association Skutek and a member the curatorial and artistic group Café Utopia (Zuzana Janečková, Marika Kupková, Markéta Žáčková). Different media and forms are equally inspiring for her as semantic connotations that she subsequently entwines them with. It’s like when Harry Potter puts the cloak of invisibility on. Appropriated prefabs turn into objects with different values and meanings and works of art imitate the characteristics of prefabs. Their mixing, juicing, washing, drying, ironing, sewing, welding, cutting, gluing, writing, printing, saying, photographing, painting, engraving and dreaming take place. She always works with topics that she is personally related to, whether it’s time, models, family history, architecture or, currently, the motif of heat. Her works are created in some sort of chain continuity and, based on them, we can track down the story. Katarína Hládeková is a multidimensional being with whom it’s possible to experience even the impossible. You are personally invited to the pyrocene journey.

Zuzana Janečková