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Psychostereotaxia | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic

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Between 1979 and 1993, there was the Gallery of a Child at the City Gallery of Bratislava. 

Exhibition

Psychostereotaxia

Authors: BAHAMA
Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
4. 4. 2018 - 3. 6. 2018
Curator: Lucia Gregorová Stach

The art group BAHAMA emerged in 1978 in Bratislava as an informal body of three artists who sporadically joined forces in a collective artistic identity. It was founded by a photographer Pavol Breier (1952 Bratislava), a visual artist Peter Horváth (1949 Bratislava) and an art historian and theoretician Radislav Matuštík (1929 Čejč – 2006 Bratislava). The group responded to the conceptual rejection of artificiality and the void aesthetics of the official art. Julius Koller's work „umeNIE“ (artNOT) can perhaps be selected as the best example of rendering of the notion. Their activity climaxed at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s and they responded to the issues of the political and cultural environment in the period of normalisation from the side-line of the official establishment.  The members, along with their collective work, had also their individual activities. Radislav Matuštík was a critic, curator and a co-organiser of events on the unofficial art scene in Slovakia. Pavol Breier was active as a mountaineer and photographer. In BAHAMA formation, he had an active role as an organiser/part-taker and photographer as well as an author of a number of books on their collective projects.

BAHAMA was often inspired and participated in collective events of other underground artists and art bodies. Contributions to the project Argillia by Alex Mlynárčík, to events by Peter Meluzin and to the initiative Terén, often with other artists such as Rudolf Sikora and Juraj Meliš formed in the process.  The unofficial scene after 1970 brought several projects and mystifications motivated by more or less romantic escapism to the cosmos or unbound nature. Pavol Breier participated also in the fictive Galéria Ganku, the main protagonist of which was Július Koller. In 1981, he realised real ascend to the mountains Nakratau and Ushba in Caucasus Mountains with a BAHAMA flag.

BAHAMA group artworks used the photo-medium to produce a record of fictive events which (sometimes owing to the choice of photo-technique and montage) due to its absurdity acted as a distorted mirror for the coeval society. Events and pseudo-events were the criticism of the post-normalisation status quo – the public lying and “beaming stupidity” (Václav Havel), in which everyone was taking part despite the fact that no one believed it any longer. The propaganda utilised the power of photography – being “a shadow” of reality and truth (Susan Sonntag), a proof that something happened. Activities and works by BAHAMA subversively worked with photography to ratify fictional stories as real events from the recent past. In their puns they opted for the inversion of methods of the socialistic realism that present plausible and ideologically manipulated fiction on the near future. In events and photographs BAHAMA deliberately engaged paradox and hyperbole. Their works are specific for their meticulousness and their own visual style. It is of significance that the group emerged a year after the public initiative against the communistic government Charter 77 in Czecho-Slovakia which was entirely exposed in November 1989 and ended by the mass protests during the Velvet Revolution. At the end of the 1970s, a number of conceptual and action artists intuitively turned to photography as a basic visual element of the artwork and after the analytical conceptualism the power of photographic picture (as well) returned to the progressive visual art in Slovakia.

The exhibition title is identical with the emblematic artwork by the formation dated 1979 which was published as a typical concertina book on a (fictive) operation on artist's psyche. It was based on the information and photographic pictures of the real stereotactic method used in psychiatry and neurosurgery. The introductory “manual” signed by ZSVU (currently non-existent union of visual artist) is a combination of coeval ZSVU congresses and Matuštík's “theoretical” lecture.  It is a pseudo-scientific reference on the “recomposition of the personality” producing a conformable artist and conveying her/him towards “the submissiveness, conventionality, conservativeness and dependence on a herd”. During other BAHAMA events and projects, a spectator can find various motifs emerging from the atmosphere the communistic regime, a notion of resistance of the individuality towards the totality, occasionally concealed in an interpretation of artworks. They emanate irony, sarcasm and ridicule.  Hence one cannot avoid seeing parallels with current political and societal situation present in Slovakia. The historical picture of the BAHAMA group is thus revived.

LGS

Translation Štefan Cebo

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