May 6, 2015 - Czech and Slovak Republic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Jiří David
May 6, 2015

Jiří David

Jiří David
9 May–22 November, 2015

Preview: 6–8 May
Opening: 7 May, 12h

Czech and Slovak Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Commissioner: The National Gallery in Prague 

Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and The National Gallery in Prague are delighted to announce Jiří David as the artist of Czech and Slovak Pavilion at the 56th Biennale in Venice. David’s project Apotheosis was chosen by the international jury.

Statement of the Jury: From 39 submitted projects the jury unanimously selected the proposal of Jiří David. The jury especially appreciated the generous concept of the site-specific project that reflects the past in context of current political and social developments. The project, which references an iconic artwork from Czech history, is a radical and complex conceptual installation that combines distinctive value of the space in the National Pavilion Cecoslovacchia with questions of national identity and representation. Project thematizes a series of contradictions concerning both artistic poetics as well as disturbing manifestations of contemporary civilization. 

The core of the project is a site-specific installation reflecting a number of relevant themes linked with the historical, cultural and collective memory and different ways of understanding the terms “homeland” and “home.” The artist sets them in specific geopolitical and socio-cultural circumstances in the course of one century. David elaborates these themes in the metaphorical visual vocabulary and ponders about the meaning, building and emptying the contents of the terms “home,” “homeland” and “nation.” Within their framework, he confronts the past and the present when we permanently experience the “anesthetizing” (numbing) of the day-to-day life by the media and politics. The artist highlights two dominating artistic strategies in the exhibition—the appropriation and re-interpretation, whose aim is the revisionist reading of modern and contemporary history, politics, culture and arts, a process linked with a number of artificially created myths. David’s site-specific installation, which is typical of its inter-textual character and references to the cultural, social, political and philosophical contexts, evokes many important problems leading the viewer to a critical reflection in international terms. The exhibition will also test the professional and broad public’s degree of empathy and intellectual insight of the presented problems, which may lead it to ponder the complexity of the globalized world.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book—a reader titled Apotheosis, Apocalypse, Apocryphon: Deified Nations, Deified Art, consisting of five essay reprints. The essays have been written by significant European and American philosophers, sociologists and historians, such as Jacques Rancière, Zygmunt Bauman, Peter Sloterdijk, Timothy Snyder and Susan Buck-Morss. The reader also includes seven new essays by relevant Czech, Macedonian and Slovak philosophers, sociologists and art historians, such as Jiří Přibáň, Václav Bělohradský, Miroslav Petříček, Karel Srp, Milena Slavická, Suzana Milevska and Katarína Rusnáková. The collection of diverse contributions resonates with the key connotations of Jiří David´s oeuvre, which focuses on historical, philosophical, aesthetic, artistic, social and political topics and introduces them into ambiguous correlations. 

The expert consultant of Jiří David’s Apotheosis project is Professor Jiří Přibáň and the curator of the exhibition is Katarína Rusnáková. They are both also editors of the reader.

Jiří David is one of the most distinctive representatives of contemporary Czech art. The rare diversity and richness of his oeuvre won him a brilliant reputation in his country and abroad. His areas of interest include painting (he was one of the co-founders of the Tvrdohlaví / Hardheads group in 1987), mixed media art, especially photography, installations and realizations in the public space. David’s approach is characterized by a considerable degree of personal involvement as he seeks to convey a major message of up-to-date socio-cultural and political problems of his time. David’s major works of art include, among others, Hidden Image (1991–95), a cycle of manipulated photographic portraits of major figures in art, culture, politics, science and sport, which examines specific features of human face as a carrier of multiple identities by using anthropological and psychological studies. In his series of digital photographs titled No Compassion (2002) David challenged one of the gender stereotypes—the suppression of the emotional expression of crying in male politicians. David’s two generous realizations in the public space also aroused public attention. One of which was the neon Heart at the Castle (2002), an iconic artwork highlighting the symbol of heart, which was part of Václav Havel’s personal signature and an emblematic expression of his policy. The other was an object-assemblage called Revolution (2010) made of more than 85,000 keys expressing the artist’s polemic with the society’s development twenty years after the Velvet Revolution. David regularly exhibits in the Czech Republic and abroad and his works are represented in the collections of many prestigious institutions (including the National Gallery in Prague, Prague City Gallery, Moravian Gallery in Brno, Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Museum of Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna, Art Institute of Chicago, Arco Collections Madrid and others). 

Katarína Rusnáková is a Slovak curator and art historian. Since 2006 she has been Head of the Department of Art Theory and History at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica. She holds a PhD in Art History (Palacký University in Olomouc, 2009). Rusnáková has curated more than 50 exhibitions, e.g. Aspects/Positions: 50 Years of Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (Vienna, Budapest, 1999–2000), Invitation for a Visit  (Ilona Németh, Jiří Surůvka), La Biennale di Venezia 49. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, the Czech and Slovak Pavilion ( 2001). Her book publications include V toku pohyblivých obrazov. Antológia textov o elektronickom a digitálnom umení v kontexte vizuálnej kultúry [In the Flow of Moving Images. Anthology on Electronic and Digital Art in the Context of Visual Culture] (2005), História a teória mediálneho umenia na Slovensku [History and Theory of Media Art in Slovakia] (2006), Rozšírené spôsoby diváckej recepcie digitálneho umenia [Expanded Forms of Audience Reception of Digital Art] (2011).

Press contact
Tereza Ježková: jezkova [​at​]

Jiří David represents the Czech Republic at the 56th Venice Biennale
Czech and Slovak Republic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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