Five questions by Juraj Čarný, 2009

J. Č.: One of the least striking artworks in your exhibition was a flat for Marcel Duchamp. What is your relationship to this „guru“ of contemporary art?

S. M.: I am delighted that we begin our interview with the Duchamp. Such a crucial moment in a perception of art as exhibiting an urinal, has definitely influenced myself and my way of thinking as well. I work with ready-made, I choose absolutely everyday objects. I don't avoid masterpieces of the art' history anyway – Duchamp not omitted. I have interpreted his masterpieces as the Nude descending a staircase or the Fountain in several artworks. In 2008 you and I have exhibited my artworks - appropriations from art history – exhibition called After Duchamp in your gallery Space (where Ľubomír Ďurček was a special guest). I mention this exhibition not only because its title indicates principles of my creation, but particularly, to come closer to the Just series exhibited here.
Shortly, the series concerned the computer collages of famous historical masterpieces. The similar principle as the applicably modified information - the "new reality" gets to us through media. I've modified the atmosphere or meaning of the master pieces as well. This is how Just Jesus has originated, where I have retouched Jesus' disciples from the DaVinci's Last Supper and Jesus remained there alone. After I have retouched all men from the Manet's Breakfast in the Grass, the picture "Just Women" got a "feminist" impression in my presentment.
And of course I have not omitted Duchamp – I have retouched his inscription R-Mutt from his Fountain and Just Urinal has originated. Retouching the bristle and the mustache from L.H.O.O.Q. the Just Gioconda appeared. So, the urinal becoming an artwork thanks to transfering it to the new context, I have returned it to the condition “preliminary to artistic”, however at the same time "new artistic" thanks to the new context. For me, this is interesting, balancing on the edge between art and “non-art”. In a similar way functions the artwork that you have referred to in the beginning of a question, Duchamp’s Flat.

J. Č.: What does a door mean to you? Is it an entry or an exit, a space „beyond“ or do you percept it in a symbolic way? Is it just a piece of furniture, as a radiator, a table, a chair, a plug connections which you arrange into unexpected contexts? Do you like to manipulate a spectator and to play with his ability to perceive an everyday reality?

S. M.: I choose objects surrounding us and getting us to the border of our perception because of their familiarity and functional matter of course, on a purpose. We open a door, we ascend a staircase, we sit on a chair behind a table. Here I find an interesting space for smaller or larger shifting and manipulations, thanks which I can open new themes.
I suppose, that it could be an experience for a spectator just from the visual point of view - to see objects or whole situations suddenly different.
There can be different reactions from the spectators - once a sincere/shocked smile after seeing a table, surprisingly in a shape that copies a staircases, but on the other side, after entering into a gallery that "closes" a door behind him and he finds himself in an emptied space, that could be probably a more existential "moment of tearing-him-off the everyday banalities".
Of course, I can't avoid possibility of different interpretations from the spectators concerning the artworks exhibited this way and my intention does not have to be accepted, what is absolutely legitimate. About a word manipulation: I don't percept it in a negative way, it is just a medium to start a communication with a spectator. To lead him to the point when he is able and maybe also willing to open his perception and cogitation.

J. Č.: The Global History of Art is a project where You create simple icons using process of minimalization and transformation the most signifcant masterpieces of a history. What were the criteria choosing the artworks? Was the process of selection different in a case of Slovak modern and world art? Were there artists on Your shortlist missing transformable artworks for Your artistic intention?

S. M.: I treated with interpretation of masterpieces from art history before these projects, as I have mentioned, these were mostly, let us call – them – tributes to Duchamp. In 2000 I have created series mostly text plates, continuing to icons, as You have mentioned, where I have transformed artworks from an art history. Tribute to these great persons was not a motif now. I was looking for a form how to notice the process of simplifying what is significant for our era. That is why a word “global” emerged in a title of this series as an announcement that I have roused from a model of dealing with reality charakteristic for globalization. So, simplifying a form, omitting “inessential” details, unification of a shape and colourity. I have subordinated these to character of communication signs, icons we meet normally, (however where this simplifying has a function justification). Selection of artworks is subordinated to this concept, so I have not selected them myself, but selected were works notoriously appearing in publications commenting history of art. Yes, some artworks has lost its gesture after diverting into the form of icon, in other cases there was a problem with complicity. But if I could not “use” certain artwork, I tried to find next one from this author, equally“adequate”. But I have more icons from a few authors as well. Commenting Slovak art I decided to concentrate just on the 20th century. Process of selection did not differ to world art, as a master I chose book published with collective exhibition mapping 20th century in Slovak National Gallery. Just a few names from (that time) youngest generation were amended not represented in this exhibition. As a third, I created cycle of icon commenting cardinal artworks of contemporary visual art. Exhibiting these icons I prefer their installation in places where we naturally expect common icons - again moving on the edge between art and “non-art”.

J. Č.: Fingers in plug connector can act prvoplánovo on first sight. Is shocking Your intention, to pick out gallery visitor from letargy, or…?

S. M.: Overpressures of being – this is a title of the artwork, You are describing, originated isochronally in parallel with series of cushiony animals On the Edge. I wanted to record existenciality in both of them, human, or temperamental in abnormal, strainy situations. I retain a white chroma in this work, white wall in this case, switch, plug connector, commonness, minimum of design of these objects. Hyperrealistic fragment of fingers or part of shues, can be shocking, or abhorrent visually, but it is a component part of my game with a spectator. These objects are installed in in places, expected really in, so switch next to door, or plug connector in lower part of a wall. If a spectator does not miss them in this mimikri, I suppose he would like to verifyif what he sees is a reality. More interesting for me is that part of artwork's performing when detail of a finger in switch is apprehended again with wall – this is no less important. The whole situation is about overpressure (from inside to the surface), even I help myself with those human fragments in a metaforic way, as I want to talk more about overpressures, percolation, or spiritual, temperamental outstrokes, more than corporeal.

J. Č.: If Stano Masár's intention would be to baffle advisors of his creation, with cycle of „laboratory white rats“ he would be probably successful. Or was there other intention?


S. M.: You are probably mentioning that for the first time cushiony animals appear in my creation. Well, character of this cycle is related to several my works originating approximately in the same time. Emptied white, empty can of white colour, or Dead hare explaining art to the picture, cushiony hare in situation similar to those from performance of Joseph Beuys, and white canvas on a frame. One imaginary zero point, condition of emptiness in first mentioned artwork, where something has finished and space for newbegin, new fictive “transcendental” discussion between dead hare and white “immaculate” picture. I perceive white important in meaning, rats in artwork we talk about are white as well.
As I have mentioned sooner, it is intented in a existencial way. Cycle is titled On the edge and I wanted its ending up in would stay on the border between animal and man, recorded in certain boundary situation too. Laboratory rats are very close to us human, as we have chosen them as animals, we make experiments on, we test them, observe and record their behavior and reactions thanks its corporal dispositions. Conclusions of this test consequently help in aplication tested sample on a man. I wanted to record those creatures in moments, what would be like their behavior, if they had an intelect and behavior character similar to human one. Then in this model we much more temperamentally perceive gnawer v in a thinker pose, other one resigned and resolved to end up such kind of life falling down. In next chovný glassy cube pious scenery is recorded, where fellow parts from dying.