Czech Centre Prague - A Centimeter a Day / January Exhibition
Lena Knilli and Jana Kasalova explore the notion of time and a life of changes, movements and our need (perhaps mistaken) to physically mark and map these.
In one series of work, Lena Knilli recreates the old public clock faces of Prague which were discarded during her time in Prague. These were simple, round, white plexiglass clock faces made up of black circles indicating the hours and a cross in the middle. In their pure and distilled nature, these clock faces visualize our need to divide our lives into clean segments of activity over time, to order what is normally not so easily and definitively delineated. In Knilli’s version of the clock faces, the clock hands are missing so the clock faces only show potential positions and time situations and the circle marks (the hours) are moved from their given places towards or away from one another - time flows but irregularly and subjectively. The clock circles are replicated again on Knilli’s flowing skirts, a recurring theme in her work – the life of objects we surround ourselves with and the clothing we wrap ourselves in. These mark our time here just as surely as the clock but in not such a linear fashion. The circle marks change their position through the various movements and folds - we move forward but also borrow and constantly reference the past.
Jana Kasalova, for her part, focuses on our location in time. She takes existing commercial maps and deconstructs them, cuts them into new shapes and configurations. What was seen as defined and clearly outlined is no longer so - she blacks out the names of places as these changed over time. The maps become receptacles for abstract shapes which no longer help us find our way. Kasalova is particularly interested in the area of the Sudetenland at today’s Czech Austrian border where the names of particular places are or were known in one language or another, have multiple identities or in some cases no longer exist at all.
Over the past few years, Kasalova has been creating a new kind map by charting the movements of animals but these are not maps which impose a way of seeing things and a way of moving, rather they are one of many possibilites created by instinct and not by conscious design. Like Knilli, Kasalova ask us to see the uncertain and fleeting nature of time and place and ultimately, to try to embrace this.
Text written by Camille Hunt, curator of the exhibition.
Organized in cooperation with Czech Centre Vienna, the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Embassy of Austria in the Czech Republic.
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