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'From Dead to Worse' by Nik Timková at 35m2 gallery, Prague

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In order to introduce the art of Nik Timková and to describe her exhibition, we will have to share a personal story. Her black cat is a great hunter who is constantly bringing home the remains of what she catches, such as bird bones and rat tails. The tails freaked Nik out – no, she didn’t climb up on a chair, but she found herself gripped with anxiety. Rats are swift and stealthy, capable of running out from behind a corner when we least expect it. But Nik’s black cat is quicker, and so all that remains of the rat is its tail. Since it is in the nature of a hunter to hunt, Nik had to somehow come to terms with the rat tails, and so she began to mold them in clay and create little sculptures of them.

One basic principle of witchcraft is to capture the essence of things and to control them even when they are not nearby. A central role is played by fantasy and the imagination. We imagine the item, whose distance disappears through the use of magic formulas and rituals; we draw closer to them by moving from reason to emotions, from defining to experiencing. Feminist books and popular culture tell us that witchcraft is both mystical and physical, that it is a rebellion against order and that it places emotionality over rationality, faith over empiricism. Unlike magic, which is more of a male craft and until the Baroque era had been a legitimate aspect of science, witchcraft is a female trade, was never institutionalized, and survives to this day in the form of various rituals and neo-pagan cults. Nik Timková has been interested in witchcraft rituals since puberty. Her interest involves the occasional practice of rituals that, more than a serious attempt at changing the state of things, involve play, teenage enchantment, and a return and escape to hopes that, in their clash with the world of adults, would appear to be naïve. But hope is neither useless nor is it a given. Nik is interested in particular in the neo-pagan Wiccan movement, which is associated with the cult of the Goddess. The Goddess is immortal; she is lover, wife, and mother to the mortal God, who goes through eternal cycles of birth and death, thus bringing us the seasons of autumn (death) and spring (rebirth). The cult of the Goddess is closely allied with the ecofeminist movement, which professes a return to a more harmonic relationship with the non-human world. Its main belief is that, like the Earth, women are abused by Western patriarchal culture, which seeks to conquer, own, and control. It is no coincidence that in ancient Greek mythology, which has influenced Western civilization the most, it is the other way around: The goddess Persephone is subservient to the will of Hades, who causes nature to mourn when he leaves for the underworld in the autumn before returning in the spring. Although Nik does not address these concepts directly in her work, they are always latently present. Nik Timková’s artistic process is a magic ritual, for it involves the enchantment of visual signs. Nik often uses digital collages in which she rearranges signs, mixes their meanings, and brings together unrelated essences using the magic wand that is Photoshop. She combines the traditional iconography of witchcraft with the mythology of contemporary popular culture. The digital and the mythical come together on the surface of objects of a ritual nature. Nik Timková’s installation is a place to rest and contemplate. Art is magical in and of itself; it fulfills a sacral function that, in a secular society, replaces faith and returns us, if only for a moment, to a world of ritual, contemplation, or perhaps even mystical ecstasy. Art also asks questions. It is like the pendulum in the second room: First we ask it a yes/no question to which we already know the answer, then we determine how the pendulum swings when it answers yes and how it swings when it answers no. Then we can ask it something to which we do not know the answer. We play a game with our Self; the main thing is to ask a question that answers us by its very existence.

— František Fekete

14.12.18 — 4.1.19

Curated by František Fekete

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