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THIRD MIND. Jiří Kovanda and the (Im)Possibility of Collaboration

Archive: THIRD MIND. Jiří Kovanda and the (Im)Possibility of Collaboration


Dukelských hrdinů 530/47, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice, Česká republika
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Date: 05.10.2016 - 15.01.2017
Place: Trade Fair Palace

“Existence is with: otherwise nothing exists”, thus French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy begins elaborating his ontology of “with” which employs a folded dynamics of spatial and temporal negation: “with” is neither mediate nor immediate; it does not constitute a process. Instead, for the author of Being Singular Plural (Être singulier pluriel, 1996), “with” is identified as “closeness, the brushing up against or the coming across, the almost-there of distanced proximity”. Located at the very heart of Being, it spreads out and constitutes co-essence (or being-with), thus designating the necessary sharing of time-space. Nancy proclaims an apogee of togetherness as (singular\plural) fabrics of interwoven “with” and “near”: “the question of Being and the meaning of Being has become the question of being-with and of being-together (…) Being is at the same time in the same place only on the condition of the spacing of an indefinite plurality of singularities. Being is with Being; it does not ever recover itself, but it is near to itself, beside itself, in touch with itself, its very self, in the paradox of that proximity where distancing (éloignement) and strangeness are revealed. We are each time an other, each time with others. ‘With’ does not indicate the sharing of a communion situation any more than the juxtaposition of pure exteriorities does (for example, a bench with a tree with a dog with a passer-by)”. Togetherness as a simultaneity and co-appearance constitutes an absolutely original structure of being-with. It determines the arrival of a communion whose mystery, as Nancy explains, announces itself in the form of the nearby (prochaine). It is there, at this threshold of initiation to plurality, where proximity (defined as “the correlate of intimacy: it is the ‘nearest’, the ‘closest’, which is also to say ‘the most approximate’ or ‘infinitely approximate’ to me, but it is not me because it is withdrawn in itself, into the self in general”) generates the Other, the place of community, the place of a being-self-in-other. “Everything, then, passes between us,” Nancy continues, “it is that which is at the heart of a connection, the interlacing (l’entrecroisement) of strands whose extremities remain separate even at the very centre of the knot. The ‘between’ is the stretching out (distention) and distance opened by the singular as such, as its spacing of meaning”. The world, the Other and the meaning are folded up in a primary tissue of “with” and set up in a constitutive process of mutual coproduction: “The ‘with’ is the measure of an origin-of-the-world as such, or even of an origin-of-meaning as such. To-be-with is to make sense mutually, and only mutually. Meaning is the fullest measure of the incommensurable ‘with’. The ‘with’ is the fullest measure of (the) incommensurable meaning (of Being)”. 

No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a ‘third mind’. 

William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, Third Mind (1965)

The exhibition THIRD MIND. Jiří Kovanda and the (Im)Possibility of Collaborationfocuses on the collaborative aspects of Czech artist Jiří Kovanda’s artistic practice. Evidencing a “collaborative turn” that has recently occurred in the contemporary art production, it gathers collages, installations, sculptures, performances, and discursive events that were conceived together and in a dialogue with other artists and cultural producers as well as with the audience. As such, borrowing its title from a seminal “Book of Methods” by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin – “in modern art history a monument to collage, cultural subversion, and, finally, to equal and perfect collaboration” – the exhibition investigates the conditions of a collaborative work and it questions the autonomy and identity of an art work as a collective endeavour. It also discusses the artistic authorship and a possibility of a collaborative écriture, as well as the rhetoric of success and failure embedded in it. Ultimately, following Nancy, it unfolds a primary tissue of with, unveiling the world, the Other and the meaning within a process of mutual coproduction.

The exhibition THIRD MIND. Jiří Kovanda and the (Im)Possibility of Collaborationcelebrates 40th anniversary of Kovanda’s artistic practice. Having achieved international acclaim particularly with his ephemeral actions and interventions in the public space, dating from the 1970s and 1980s (considered by the artist as an attempt at “making contact”), Jiří Kovanda remains one of the most significant and influential contemporary Czech artists. Practicing poetry of everyday life and of human gesture, Kovanda elaborates a subtle and anti-monumental oeuvre. Although balancing on the edge of visibility, it is a powerful creative act of distinctive artistic signature and strong social resonance as well as sensual, performative appearance.  

The exhibition emphasizes the performativity of a contemporary artistic production. Respirium will be turned into a stage-cum-auditorium (called a colLABORation) where the actuality of performative activities will be reenacted and discussed.

Jiří Kovanda (1953) is one of the most important contemporary Czech artists. His works are represented at prestigious art exhibitions internationally, recently, for example, the Tate Modern in London (performance entitled Kissing through Glass), or the display Documenta12 inKassel. He achieved international acclaim particularly with his events and interventions dating from the 1970s and ´80s, which became indispensable part of important exhibitions and publications mapping up the art of the former eastern bloc, re-integrating it into the European and world contexts. To name just a few: East Art Map, Body and the East, and Parallel Actions.

Participating artists: Jiří Kovanda, Edith Jeřábková, Jiří David, Markéta Othová, Katarína Hládeková, Stanislava Karbušická, Richard Nikl, Denisa Lehocká, Eva Koťátková, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Zbyněk Baladrán, Vladimír Skrepl, Tomáš Svoboda, Silvina Arismendi, Nina Beier, Fernanda Gomes, Guillaume Désanges

Curated by Adam Budak
Architecture by Tomáš Svoboda
Graphic design by Adéla Svobodová
Catalogue authors Adam Budak, François Piron, Guillaume Désange, Edith Jeřábková and others 
Venue: Trade Fair Palace, Mezannine

Accompanying program to download here.

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Dukelských hrdinů 530/47, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice, Česká republika




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