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'Všekazi' by David Střeleček & Šimon Levitner at 35m2 gallery, Prague

What does the inside of a snail shell look like?

David Střeleček and Šimon Levitner’s exhibition is an expression of their artistic positions in the field of installation art. The exhibition follows on the music compilation and video No One Is an Island in its message of the need to change our relationship to our immediate surroundings, which speak in the language of poetic fantasy and yet are full of pulsating environmental anxiety from a point of view in which the inhuman is mixed with the imaginary. It also encompasses the subject of the environment and the search for change and hope. It is a sophisticated report on the outside world, a message in a bottle carried off by the ocean waves. But at the same time, the message is wound into itself like a spiral, and inside is a fundamental emphasis on community, communication, and the importance of creative interactions among individuals. It is the inside of a snail shell. When a snail withdraws into its shell, its form is its very essence. In the same way, the exhibition is both surface and interior. At the focal point of the works is the process of their creation, reflections of ideas and forms of the collective’s various members in the mirror system of the snail shell. A flash of light gets out while the snail meditates. 

The viewer finds himself in a spatial tale, divided into three imaginary nodes, of which he himself becomes an actor. The floor of the passage between rooms functions like an architecture of uncertainty. We must be more cautious, put aside haste, and by our own movement explore and submit to an unfamiliar environment. It is a furrowed surface, easily tripped over and requiring us to step carefully, demanding sensitive interaction between the bottom of the shoe and the surface of the floor. Most surfaces today are smooth, allowing for efficient movement but with no places to hide, thus becoming a trap with possibility for stopping. Smooth will always be more comfortable, but also subjected to greater possibilities of control. Smooth is simple, visible, geometric, while furrowed is fragmentarized, hiding, and organic. 

Passing through the furrowed space, we arrive at the Insect House, which is more like a happening that challenges the viewer to build an insect house. The artists provide us with instructions, and at a certain point in existence, the viewer is transformed into a builder of insect houses. At the end of the journey is a troll, a commonly doltish and clumsy fantasy figure. A character who flaunts his strength only to knock himself out with his own club. As a tool of dim- witted strength, he is – like a knife, a bulldozer, or an oil well – a technological extension of the human body that allows us to work with objects while disregarding the surface integrity and inner essence of the materials that it penetrates. 

Střeleček and Levitner’s works most commonly take the form of metaphorical or real-life gateways into different worlds or our own world with elements of augmented reality. When we enter the exhibition, we pass through one such portal. We find ourselves in a three-dimensional fable about pollution, awareness of ourselves through others, and final catharsis. We discover that a window onto another world can be a distorted mirror, that by opening up to the outside we also open up a view of ourselves. And since we are entering a space that opens further and in an infinite number of ways, we are never before or behind, but in-between. 

12.12.19 — 10.1.20

Curated by František Fekete

Photo by Petra Steinerová

35m2 gallery

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