It's always great to see how the art develops inside of unique spaces of strong though sometimes hidden architectural qualities, such as happens in the case of former print house Svornosť (Unity) in Bratislava. The emptying, removal of machinery and equipment in Svornosť building, originally designed for industrial purposes, has created a temple-like aura of loftiness, purity, and sacredness. The structural elements, facades, and ceilings of the building have been completely uncovered to its raw state displaying massive columns and high ceilings made of reinforced concrete. The building was left standing naked yet proud, like a curious forever-child, always keen for new discoveries.
As usual, artists were the first to inhabit such 'undefined' spaces, and thus after a few rather small artistic interventions, and a unique fashion-dance performance of local brand Puojd at Fashion LIVE! 2018 after-party, a greater art intervention consisting of three site-specific performances was finally held on November of 2018. Curated by Hana Kucharovičová, the site specific intervention involved a group of artists from Slovakia, UK, and US, namely art performance collective Marina Abramovic po sebe neupratuje (SK), the artist duo Hannah Evans (UK) and Kate McCambridge (US), and an emerging solo artist Gabriela Halás (SK).
Marina Abramovic po sebe neupratuje (Andrea Priecelová, Gabriela Halás, Tatiana Takáčová, Viktoria Martins da Silva, Juraj Mydla, Martin Toldy, Matúš Gavorník) has shown a performative reading piece 'I like the way you work', critically responding to the social phenomenon of work and rest, in contrast to the poetically-tuned scene of personal cleansing in seemingly private environment. The focus was not on story, action or continuity of specific situations, but on overall atmosphere, where actors and environment played equally important role.
The evening show has continued with the performance of Hannah Evans (UK) and Kate McCambridge (US), whose work is an intersection between performance and sculpture, creating assemblages with everyday materials, architectural space and the human body. Considering the relationship between these three elements, they create temporal, transient and reactive work, where the human body is a key element of its formation, destruction and existence.
Artist Gabriela Halás with support of curator Hana Kucharovičová has introduced a large-scale painting intervention named 'Variabilné možnosti' (Variable possibilities). On the original floor, Gabriela has created an 'underfoot' painting for 10 days as a contrasting counterpoint to the tradition of ceiling frescoes.
The layer of the original floor, condemned for removal, will be split into fragments after the event and preserved in the form of a bizarre archaeological find of the present. According to the authors, the painting 'Variabilné možnosti' with its motifs of landscapes, scenes and spaces gives rise to a meditative calmness, as well as an irritable tension.
For some of us, this breakthrough event was a clear example of how an interesting building, or an interesting architectural space, can be used for artistic purposes even during the short transitional moment of its own retrofit or renovation. It was wonderful to observe how the building interacted with a variety of artist collectives and artistic approaches, and how these interventions created some sort of a story behind it. The event could be considered a cornerstone for further artistic interventions, and hopefully having a positive influence on the future program, appearance, and 'vibe' of the building.