aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chAin
George Barber, The Freestone Drone, 2013
Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová, The Trivial Few (80:20), 2007

12 April – 8 June 2013
Private view Thursday, 11 April, 6-9pm

waterside contemporary is pleased to present aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chAin, a solo exhibition by Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová, their first in the UK.

Encompassing installation, video, text and performance, Chişa and Tkáčová’s work re-configures and unsettles established social and political power structures, to allow for a notion of alternative world orders. Bringing together ideas from disparate sources, the duo expose cracks in our habitual formulations of power, value, gender or political desire. The artists’ collaboration itself is a constant mixing of the individual selves to create a new temporary entity.

Chişa and Tkáčová search for methods and lexical frameworks that could give rise to new languages and systems of values not index-linked to capital. Emblematic of that is Nom de Guerre, in which the title of the exhibition – itself an anagram of the artists’ names, selected from thousands possible – is rendered in the gallery in gold necklace charms. Intricate in its design, the textual sculpture is at once fragile and robust. Its precious-metal constituents, each pre-owned and infused with personal histories, linked in a chain are capable of (orthographic) conflict.

The rules governing Chişa’s and Tkáčová’s work – and indeed their on-screen personae – are often pastiches of well-practiced social and political norms. In re-staging and over-acting, the duo find an absurdity intrinsic in contemporary attempts at creating illusion of polycratic balance.

Central in the exhibition is Either Way, We Lose, a giant inflatable fist. Throughout history, the raised fist has been a universal symbol of protest, adopted by (often contrary) social groups. Here, the call to action is confined by the gallery’s architecture, deflatable, and animated only by a constant supply of pressurised air. Alongside, sits Freedom Trash Can, a hobo’s stove fashioned out of an empty oil drum. While the work’s (disputed) original of 1986 would have helped Women’s Liberation protesters set their bras on fire, the Can’s ‘eternal flame’ carries on only as decoration.

This humorous relationship with futility is Chişa’s and Tkáčová’s attempt to collapse the historical, philosophical pillars of society. Retreating into jibe, gossip or mantra, the artists’ work exists in a plane that is beyond economic, legislative, political control. aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chAin is a call to arms; the artists even furnish us with the stones to throw.

Anetta Mona Chişa (Romania) and Lucia Tkáčová (Slovakia) have been working together since 2000. They graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and currently they live and work in Prague and Berlin.

Chişa & Tkáčová’s solo exhibitions include Clash! at Art In General New York, Performing History, the Romanian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (with Ion Grigorescu), How to Make a Revolution at MLAC Rome, and Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Their work has been exhibited widely, including at Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Vienna, ZKM Karlsruhe, Christine König Vienna, The Power Plant Toronto, Migros Museum Zurich, Zacheta Warsaw, and MUMOK Vienna. In the UK, they took part in Arrivals at Turner Contemporary, and Artist Film International at Whitechapel Gallery.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.
Special thanks to Christine König Gallerie Vienna.
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