…and they lived…
…and they lived…
…even though, it’s hard to be certain, if it was a question of happily ever after or not. Life is a journey, says a cliché older than capitalism (or an eternal truth made cliché by capitalism), and so is this show. A journey through the riches of storytelling and its endless potentials. Its power to form states of mind, to convince people to create and re-create history, or to put someone to sleep. Our times used to be called the era of post-truth. Others started to doubt if there had ever been any truth to begin with. And so the quantum physicists and comic book heroes gave us the multiverse to get lost in completely (or was it the other way around?). We live next to each other, yet often on parallel planes. And so this international group exhibition offers itself as a stage, as a theater for stories to be unfolded, enacted, re-enacted, performed, and lived. There are no answers at the end of these various rabbit holes, there never were. There is only work, individual internal work, collective reflective work, and work in general leading, possibly, to healing.
In times of need – techniques become tools, weapons and medicine. Coping mechanisms are born out of one’s sheer desire to exist, to heal, to beat the odds in a rebellion or lull to a tranquil state of acceptance. Tales older than time are repeated and transformed, adapted to the needs of the fortune tellers, gurus, political leaders, caregivers and listeners, offering different realities, fears, courage, lessons and hope.
It seems that we exist in a state in constant need of myths, gossip, heroines and villains, the ones to condemn and the others to celebrate. These protagonists’ destiny and their tales’ interpretation is susceptible to constant change, sometimes resulting in more empathic practices and sometimes in more harmful ones. Once scary witches set to burn in flames are turned into wise healers and empowering figures and enchanting legends of how a city rose, can become a baseline for justifying and implementing imperialist prac-
tices. Who are stories told by, for whom and for which purpose is in a constant state of appropriation. Tales are nevertheless dismissible in what we are told is a system based on rational thinking, but one cannot help notice how much of seeming rationality is based on a set of beliefs and legends.
If storytelling is a method reserved for dissidents, lunatics, dreamers and children, then what are the methods of a rational (hu)man? And where does its true potential lie? The line between the real and the fake is often drawn by one’s own capacities, a placebo of sorts. Somewhere in this mess, exists a refuge base where a particular healing power, or at least, coping power, can be unlocked and deployed to give comfort when needed. The one which is channeled through tarot cards and astrology, or activated through role-playing, world-building, drag, speculation, immersion into augmented realities, altering states and many more…
This exhibition strives to show some examples of storytelling being deployed as a weapon to fight injustice, as a tool to construct new worlds and as a medicine to help cope with the existing one. The physical space of the exhibition doubles as a modular stage mutating to nest performances and interventions that will periodically take a physical form and allow room for different narratives to emerge. These sporadic occurrences will challenge in many ways the stories we are being told and provide potential different readings regarding class, climate, intimacy, healthcare and fragility among other topics. Thus, the very character of the exhibition falls in the same order, constantly evolving and offering a change of plot, landscape and protagonists with the aim of maintaining a state of necessary speculation and liquidity.
We all, possibly, have our own doppelgängers somewhere in the mirror world, writes author, political analyst, and social activist Naomi Klein in her new book, Doppelganger. These are mirror images of our political beliefs and convictions. Klein elaborates at length on her own double, Naomi Wolf, with whom she has often been confused. While their practices and political consciousness had similar roots, they might have led to the same or analogous outcomes. Yet, at a certain point in their lives, the decisions they made and the directions they took couldn’t have carried them further apart. While Klein criticizes late capitalism and corporate globalization, advocates for organized labor, and follows an ecofeminist mindset, Wolf became a straight-up conspiracy theorist, working with Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, and the former Fox News darling Tucker Carlson, denying everything from climate change to Covid-19. Both are still highly regarded in their own circles; through their own different channels, their work resonates on two sides of the mirror. One wonders: how did we arrive at the point in history where contradictory positions exist side by side, in constant struggle, yet flourishing. No wonder popular culture in the last couple of years has literally jumped on the idea of parallel universes, shattered into an endless stream of multiversal possibilities, variations, permutations; lives so far away or so close, yet entirely different. Many theorists blame the pandemic for the outburst of “what if” narratives.. What if world governments would take different decisions and set us on a different path? What if the threat had been contained earlier, or right at its inception, and no global pandemic had ever taken place? What if, instead of forcing everyone back to work as soon as possible, the governments had instead focussed on developing more equitable healthcare systems, and new support structures for workers across the spectrum? What if, what if. With the shattered mirror of possibilities, outcomes, and world views, it became harder to maintain democracy as a system. Suddenly, all the complexity was forcibly narrowed down to universally acceptable political positions. This led directly to a growing radicalism, and at the end of the day, one is confronted with the necessity to vote for a lesser evil rather than a candidate of choice. Conversation is often impossible since the divide between distinct positions is simply too broad to be bridged. But what holds such distinctly different realities in place? What allows them to grow and prosper? What keeps them together? I dare say that it’s the power of storytelling. Its ability to encompass a belief in such an elaborate narrative that it suddenly becomes the “truth.” And suddenly, with narratives so contradictory, held simultaneously, it feels that their reconciliation, if it ever comes, will not be driven by judging one story true and the other false. Suddenly, it seems that both stories, and many more, would have to be held and respected at the same time, without asking one to triumph over the others. And so this show asks you to listen to various narratives and give them the space they need. If one can do the same also outside of the exhibition space, that’s a completely different question.
14 / 12 / 23
19:30h, A HALL
The ballad of an invisible place that existed
Performance by Tina Hrevušová with guest Anna Marie Mahdíková
19:30h, The Staircase
Down to the Top
Performance by Teuta Jonuzi & Daria Lytvynenko
20 / 12 / 23
13-20h A HALL
14 / 01/ 24
18h A HALL
“plants littering, eels swelling…”
Performance by Natália Sýkorová
02 / 02 / 24
18h A HALL
Healed from 2015
Performance by björnsonova & Tamara Antonijević, Lucia Kvočáková, Lucie Mičíková, Nik Timková, Zuzana Žabková
14 / 02 / 24
18h A HALL
“No offense, but” vol. 2
Performative lecture by Ezra Šimek
18:20 A HALL
Performance by Valentýna Janů with guests Monina Nevrlá & Zizoe Veselá
Music by: NEW MAGIC MEDIA