Zbyněk Baladrán

Zbyněk Baladrán

Centre d’art contemporain - la synagogue de Delme

Zbyněk Baladrán, Dead Reckoning, 2014. Paper cut, nylon, clips, chalk, wood panels. Installation view, contemporary art centre – la synagogue de Delme, 2014. Photo: O.H. Dancy.

August 27, 2014

Zbyněk Baladrán
Dead Reckoning

10 July–21 September 2014 

contemporary art centre – la synagogue de Delme
33, rue R. Poincaré 
F-57590 Delme
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 2–6pm, 
Sunday 11am–6pm

T +33 (0) 3 87 01 43 42


Through films, diagrams, drawings and texts, Zbyněk Baladránoffers various systems of knowledge representation. He uses these forms to convey concepts and ideas, but it is also a way of giving our senses more direct access to them, as well as a means of combining philosophical questions with poetical and visual modes of transmission.

The work that opens the exhibition consists of a serpentine sculpture made of pieces of paper that spread through the space at eye level. Zbyněk Baladránturns us into active readers, because one has to move, crane one’s neck, step forward or step back in order to read and understand the meaning of the words printed on the ribbons. Like a line of thought that the artist would like to make tangible, the installation is something of a mental diagram, a labyrinthine cartography made up of superimpositions that intentionally splinter, fragment and put holes in discourse.

Many of the works of Zbyněk Baladrán(born in Prague in 1973) are infused with the inner doubts and resistance experienced by the generation that lived through the historical, political and social upheavals of the countries of the former Soviet bloc after 1989. The feeling of inadequacy and dislocation provoked by a highly paradoxical freedom, offered by a so-called democratic world, ended up producing what the artist calls “mental spasms.” More than just disenchantment, it was a kind of profound helplessness that took hold of the everyday life of this generation, which oscillated between the desire to adapt to a new liberal, individualistic environment and the search of a new sense of the common. 

In his most recent films, these questions are still central. Using minimal resources with a DIY spirit, Zbyněk Baladráncompiles a variety of images taken from the grey, apathetic media flow. He reconstructs these heterogeneous sources while lending them the rhythm of his own manipulation. There is no obvious correlation between the array of images and the voiceover text. The working method he uses involves continual misunderstanding and contradiction, as the exhibition title suggests.

In fact, Dead Reckoning is a technical term that designates the calculation of a vehicle’s position based on the distance travelled from its point of departure. Alongside the data used (such as speed), dead reckoning incorporates more fluctuating parameters like wind and sea currents. Reflecting this paradoxical science, whose purported objectivity incorporates error and uncertainty, the installation and two films produced by Zbyněk Baladránfor the Synagogue de Delme stem from the same navigation method.

The films Dead Reckoning and The microscope and telescope of Time (produced for the exhibition) are products of the artist’s research, which revolved around identifying the symptoms and contradictions that affect society as a whole. Paranoia, anxiety, hysteria and psychosis are the modern, internalised individual translations of a broader historical trauma in which class struggle, colonization and consumerism all clash. 

About the artist
Zbyněk Baladránis an artist, author and curator. His recent solo exhbitions have been presented at Frieze Projects, London (2013), Galerie Jocelyn Wolff (2013), Kunstverein (Milan) (2012), and Castillo/Corrales, Paris (2008). He has also participated in the following group exhibitions: Film as Sculpture, Wiels, Brussels (2013); Nouvelles impressions de Raymond Roussel, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); the Seoul Biennale; the Rennes Biennale (2012); Cartographies, La Caixa, Barcelona; Du monde clos à l’univers infini, Le Quartier, Quimper (2012); the Lyon Biennale (2011; Erudition Concrète 3, Le Plateau – Frac Ile de France, Paris (2010). He represented the Czech Republic at the Venice Biennale in 2013.

In 2001 he founded Galerie Display in Prague, which merged with the research and exhibition platform Tranzit in 2007. In 2010 he was one of the curators of Manifesta 8 in Murcia, Spain. With curator Vit Havranek he conceived the research project Monument to Transformation, guided by a central question: what consequences has the fall of the Iron Curtain had on society and artistic imagination over the past 20-plus years, and how should the story of these upheavals be told today?

Zbyněk Baladránwas born in 1973 in Prague, where he lives and works. He is represented by Jocelyn Wolff Gallery in Paris, by Nadine Gandy Gallery in Bratislava and by Hunt Kastner Gallery in Prague.

About la synagogue de Delme
The Centre for Contemporary Art in Delme is located in a former synagogue, built in an Oriental style in the late 19th century. Not least among its special features are a dome, an arcaded entryway decorated with latticework, and windows with geometric stained glass. The synagogue was partly destroyed during the Second World War. The outer walls survived, but the interior was rebuilt along stricter lines after the war.
The synagogue was permanently de-consecrated in the early 1980s for lack of sufficient numbers of worshippers. The first art exhibition was held in 1993.

The many artists who have exhibited in this unusual venue in the past 15 years, generating an identity and reputation for the art center both locally and internationally, include Daniel Buren, Ann Veronica Janssens, Jean-Marc Bustamante, François Morellet, Tadashi Kawamata, Peter Downsbrough, Marc Camille Chaimovicz, and more recently Katinka Bock, Gianni Motti, Yona Friedman, Susan Hiller, Eric Baudelaire…

All have developed a special view of the venue by creating site specific works. The Delme synagogue, of modest size and located in a rural region of Lorraine, has always positioned itself as an art lab, a site of artistic exploration and production.

La synagogue de Delme Centre for Contemporary Art is grateful for support from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Lorraine contemporary art authority (DRAC), the regional and departmental governments of Lorraine and Moselle, and the municipality of Delme. La synagogue de Delme Centre for Contemporary Art is a member of DCA–Association pour le Développement des Centres d’Art.

Director: Marie Cozette
Press contact: communication [​at​] cac-synagoguedelme.org


Zbyněk Baladrán at contemporary art centre
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