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Bio

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Jiří Žák (1989*) is an artist based in Prague. He mainly works with video and narrativity. A specific political issue is always the base of his work. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He participated in different internships under the guidance of Ruth Noack, Isaac Julien, or Vadim Fishkin. In 2015, he was awarded the EXIT award. Among others, his work has been shown within the cycle “Start-Up“ at the Prague City Gallery or in the exhibition SKIP the LINE! Populizm i obietnice współczesności, under the framework of Biennale Warszawa in Poland. Žák is active in the Studio without Master collective. He works for Artyčok TV and National Film Archive in Prague.

Jiří Žák (1989*) is an artist based in Prague. He mainly works with video and narrativity. A specific political issue is always the base of his work. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He participated in different internships under the guidance of Ruth Noack, Isaac Julien, or Vadim Fishkin. In 2015, he was awarded the EXIT award. Among others, his work has been shown within the cycle “Start-Up“ at the Prague City Gallery or in the exhibition SKIP the LINE! Populizm i obietnice współczesności, under the framework of Biennale Warszawa in Poland. Žák is active in the Studio without Master collective. He works for Artyčok TV and National Film Archive in Prague.

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Contact:

jura.zak@gmail.com

ARTIST STATEMENT

The focus of my work is in the essayistic approach based on the tension between the analytical research and the poetic investigation. In the confrontation of textual and performative mode. A specific political issue – arranged in an imaginative and an immersive form - is always the base of everything I do. I’m oscillating between different variations of a moving image medium; video-essay, video-installation and hybrid forms of experimental cinematic performance.

I’m specifically preoccupied with the historical socio-political themes with the relation to the present as well as with the contemporary problems and their long shadow into the past. Or in other words, how we shape the interpretation of events by projecting ourselves into them; the discrepancy between our perception of the world and its actual state. To quote David Graeber: When we speak of being “realistic,” exactly what reality is it we are referring to? For me, art is a sort of epistemological tool which opens up a different understanding of the world when the other epistemologies are shattered. How to create a meaningful story of our lives in the complexity and the uncertainty of our era? Reflecting on my own position within a given topic is a crucial moment for me. Nonetheless, it’s essential to have a critical stance that goes beyond criticism itself. My point of departure is always the storytelling. Narrativity and it’s performative aspect as well as the poetry in relation to moving image. Externalization of thought. One can just agree with John Akomfrah’s notion of an essay as not a need to write but to give meaning to things.

But let’s be a little specific. I’m my works, I’m dealing with a variety of problematics. From Czech corporate colonialism in South America and post-colonial conditions of the post-communistic Czech Republic (Mother City, 2015), to the construction of Czech identity and its relationship with the non-Europeans. In The Incantation of the Real (2019) I've developed the critical footprint in the narrative in terms of the privilege within which the Europeans approach the ecological issues and climate crisis. The spirit of revenge is here reinforce using enchantment, a curse and performing the exorcism of fossil corporations. The work is based on my experiences from Jordan and on the collaboration with artist Yazan Set Abouha. Another key issue, society's relationship to the truth within the media and internet - in the current discourse problematicly labeled as post-truth - was a theme of Shattered Epistemologist (2017). I try to explore how the political consciousness and sensitivity to the Other is shaped in the information smog of virtual space (Night of the Hunter, 2016). In the video-installation called Neglect Syndrome Politics (2017), I combine the motif of spatial orientation of the body with the orientation of society as a whole. The medical diagnosis of the so-called neglect syndrome serves as an analogical framework. The patient neglects the left half of the body and field of view and is unaware of it. The individual's body performs the state of 'the body of society'. Logika magiky (2019) is a video-essay reflecting the phenomenon of Laterna magika which was the first multimedia theatre in the world and is associated with the unprecedented success of Czechoslovakia at the Brussels Expo in 1958. I’m elaborating here on the critical reading of images from Laterna magika, especially the objectification of women and the spectacularity and emptiness of Laterna magika's shows which were basically used by Czechoslovakia as kind of propaganda for foreign export. The works Du Forma (2015) and I Have It All Here (2013) deals with the large family archive of footage and photos which was systematically created by my grandfather Vladimír Stuchlík from the year 1947 till 2015. In his late eighties and early nineties, my grandfather was committed to digitizing the archive. Du Forma is a fictional take on this personal history. I Have It All Here is the documentary that shows the moment where the archive and life merge into one.

PRESS

Review of the Laterna magika: (De)construction and (Re)invention by Martin Blažíček / artalk.cz (czech)

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Shattered Epistemologist on SZUM Magazine by Jakub Gawkowski / magazynszum.pl (english)

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Shattered Epistemologist on Revistaarta.ro by Ada Muntean / revistaarta.ro (english)

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Review of the Shattered Epistemologist on Artalk.cz by Viktor Čech / artalk.cz (czech)

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Review of the Shattered Epistemologist on Artalk.cz by Ludvík Hlaváček / artalk.cz (czech)

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Review of the Shattered Epistemologist on the Czech news / archiv.ihned.cz (czech) 

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Review of the EXIT award exhibition by Tereza Záchová / artalk.cz (czech)

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EDUCATION

2010-2016 Academy of fine arts in Prague

2012-2013 Academy Of Arts, Architecture And Design, Prague

2013-2014 Academy of fine arts, Prague - Intership at Saloun studio, Curatorial studies (Ruth Noack)

2014 University of Arts and Design (Studio of Isaac Julien, Studio of Vadim Fishkin), Karlsruhe, Germany

SELECTED SOLO SHOWS

2019 / Pretext / Vitrínka Deniska, Olomouc

2019 / The Incantation of the Real, Cursor Gallery, Prague

2017 / Post-Truth Timeline, Galerie ART, Brno

2017 / Shattered Epistemologist, Prague City Gallery

2017 / Czech ASMR (series of videos), Galerie TIC, Brno

2016 / En Plein Air 2 (with David Přílučík), GAVU, Prague    

2016 / Why Is It So Easy to Imagine the End of the World, Gallery D9, České Budějovice

2016 / Mother City, Lauby Gallery, Ostrava

2015 / Residue of perception, Galerie OFF Formát, Brno

2015 / Colloquium of Two (with Pavla Dundálková), GAVU, Prague

2015 / Du Forma, Galerie Klubovna, Brno

2014 / Guide to Uncertainty (with Sara Dittrich), KIV Gallery, Prague

SELECTED GROUP SHOWS

2019 / Laterna magika: (De)construction and (Re)invention, The Brno House of Arts

2019 / A co nám zbývá teď?, Galerii Emila Filly, Ústí nad Labem

2018 / Podmínky nemožnosti VII/VII: Psychopatologie planety, Cursor Gallery, Prague

2018 / SKIP the LINE! Populizm i obietnice współczesności, Biennale Warszawa

2018 / Making Oddkin – for joy, for trouble, for volcano love, Nisyros Island

2018 / Zła Siostra Bliźniaczka, the Botanical Museum, Krakow

2017 / OTHER VISIONS, PAF, Olomouc

2017 / Podmínky nemožnosti ii/vii: Bezprostředí, Cursor Gallery, Prague

2017 / Security Garden, Galerie FAVU, Brno

2017 / Jak si rozumět?, Galerie Hraničář, Ústí nad Labem

2016 / Vanity Fair: AVU Graduates, National Gallery, Prague

2016 / Inter-Face, Galerie U mloka, Olomouc      

2016 / Spectaculare: Ve snu to ale vypadalo jinak, Klementinum, Prague

2015 / EXIT AWARD 2015, Galerie Emila Filly, Ústí nad Labem

2014 / Even in the teaspoon the sun is reflected, Šaloun studio, Prague

2013 / Lapidárium / Betlémská kaple, Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera, Prague

PRESENTATIONS AND SCREENINGS

2018 / Festival Transient Zones, Prague

2017 / Brněnská 16 - international short film festival, Brno

2017 / Marienbad Film Festival

2016 / The Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival

2015 / Bemis Center Open Studios, performative projection of Score for Last Week (14/3/2015) (with Sara Dittrich) / Omaha

2014 / Schnongs FilmFestival, Dessau

2014 / The Laois Arthouse, Stradbally

2014 / Lowtech Microfilm Festival, Berlin

AWARDS

Laureate of EXIT AWARD 2015

RESIDENCIES

The New Dictionary of Old Ideas, The State Silk Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia (2019)

(2018) جلسات الربيع Spring Sessions, Amman, Jordan

Meetfactory, Prague, Czech Republic (2018)

The New Dictionary of Old Ideas, Hablar En Arte, CentroCentro, Madrid, Spain (2019)