Art projects by Nika Kupyrova don’t have a unifying or stable meaning; instead, they open before us an opulent universe of materials, objects, references and languages. At the current exhibition the artist makes use of a series of sci-fi novels by Iain M. Banks taking place in a futuristic civilisation known as The Culture, and of his symbolic or ironic names of starships that are in fact living creatures. We can observe works and objects that use their names as a process of creation, control and manipulation of meaning and sense. The artist draws us into suspense between the comprehensible and the unclear, an object and an artefact, the human and the extraterrestrial, between signs and surfaces, truth and fiction, the present and the future. Such is the role of aesthetics, from Immanuel Kant to Iain M. Banks. We must constantly change and find new forms and languages enabling us to see more than just these dichotomies; we might discover affects and details deeper under the surface of phrases and ideas - and possibly also beauty.
"Serious Callers Only"
I am Václav and you, you are called Nika. When I was little I was quite dissatisfied with my own name; it seemed too conservative. The Czech national patron is Václav and so are the two Czech presidents after 1989. My name is exclusively used in the Czech cultural context and is basically impossible to pronounce or substitute in other languages. And your name – Nika – immediately brings up an association with Eastern Europe to me. We are all being called callers, but we ourselves are the callers. We use names to comprehend the world, we cover things up with words to create or solidify their meaning.
“No More Mr Nice Guy”
The problems get even deeper if you come to be labeled not only by you real name but a nickname or a metaphorical expression. Let’s say you are being called “Mr Nice Guy”. In folk psychology and these self-help manuals this stands for being overly helpful and positive, always trying to avoid conflict and resorting to a compromise or a consensus.
"Kiss My Ass"
Sounds pretty fine at first, but involves a lifelong problem, believe me. While we usually accept the whole idea of democracy rooted in tolerance and in seeking consensus, sometimes you have to decide for yourself. Sometimes you must simply step out and act against the odds. Sometimes you might need to swear and tell to "kiss my ass". I mean – so much for subtlety. Sometimes you must fight for your name.
"So Much For Subtlety"
Don’t worry, I don’t mean to imply any sort of chauvinism, machoism, egoism, resentment or indifference. The opposite is the case. Even if we fight [fait] for emancipation, for feminism and equal rights, we should take names seriously. E-mancipare – means “to step out” in Latin. You see – no more Mr Nice Guy. It means to use your voice and claim your own name, a banner to fight with. So don’t worry – of course we still love you.
"Of Course I Still Love You"
Speaking of love. I always have this restless feeling. Sometimes I cannot help but simply love you. To crave your presence, words and sometimes even touches. And I wake up. Still called the same. And I have to confront this limit to my aspiration in life, with my civil and somehow boring name. An awkward fact or a situation I would like to disregard.
“A True Disregard For Awkward Facts"
This is the game we call naming. Yes, indeed – giving a name can be a thrilling, lavish procedure. It might not just give you an account of what or who someone is. It might also trigger a narrative, a perspective; a joke, pun or a twist. Frankly speaking, and finally explaining our little game with names – we refer to Iain M. Banks and his series of sci-fi novels based in The Culture. Where every piece of spacecraft is an actual sentient being, endowed with their own witty name.
The point being – it’s not just about us; it’s not just the fucking humans who matter. It’s the animals, the fictions, the world itself or a spaceship that can be brought to life, soaked with meaning and endowed with a name. Paradoxically enough this super-anthropocentric phenomenon of giving names can present a process through which we do away with human self-centeredness. A process through which we are getting closer to the nervous energy of art and things.