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Jiri Kovanda and Zhanna Kadyrova: (Almost) involuntary sculptures and material situations

Duo show with works by Jiri Kovanda
Zahorian & Van Espen, Bratislava
Until February 25, 2021

This exhibition creates a space for an encounter between Jiří Kovanda and Zhanna Kadyrova, and a possibility for the two artists to exchange about fragility in sculpture. Coming from different contexts and different generations, Kovanda and Kadyrova both take sculpture to its limits, to its margins and paradoxes. Their work often engages in profound detournements, inviting found and recuperated objects, and shaping elusive aspects of the quotidian into form, material or immaterial. In distinct, yet similarly counterintuitive ways, they volatilise the monumentality of sculpture through ironic gestures and introduce fragility as response to modernism’s heroic claims. For this project, alongside earlier work, the two artists have produced new work, incorporating the spirit of place, conceptual moments, charged ideas, and reclaimed objects from the Grössling Bathhouse in Bratislava, currently waiting for reconstruction. Today, when the pandemic makes us increasingly aware of our bodies’ fragility, the empty bathhouse awaiting new life retraces the various aspects and dichotomies of “body” across many centuries. Built in 1895, it brings back images and roles of the body as it witnessed throughout its existence, evoking rituals of cleaning, social interaction, healing and pleasure. It also draws out the radical shift to the ideologies of healthy, valid, and strong bodies promoted in the 20th century in both the former East and former West. In this particular moment, the absence of bodies in the currently decaying architecture of Grössling constitutes a perfect conceptual point of encounter for Kadyrova and Kovanda, both profoundly engaged with coincidences and fragilities in objects, bodies and minds.

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