book, pathological specimen jar, formaldehyde, vitrine
143 × 66 × 46 cm
Inv. No. 0126
The somewhat old-fashioned-looking vitrine in pale colours contains a bibliophilic treasure:
How to Look at Pictures, the English edition of a piece of educational writing from the 30’s on modern art appreciation by the Czech art historian Richard Messer. The rarity, of unknown, perhaps mysterious provenance, was lovingly placed in formaldehyde: an early work by Roman Ondák. It is an open question whether the book ever existed in this form since it is not to be found in any library in an English-language edition. As a relict of the culture of former Czechoslovakia, it mirrors history in any case, and with the foreign language title it is, at least belatedly, placed in an international context.
In later installations, Ondák printed tinned food and sacks with book titles or authors’ names. Instead of carrying company logos, bags of sugar or flour carried the names of philosophers: “Leibniz”, “Husserl”, “Sartre”. Ondák, a neo-concept artist with an ironic hidden meaning, continuously causes shifts of meaning. Usually, behind what one can see there are stories that challenge the imagination, as for instance, when old Eastern bloc cars stood for weeks in the Vienna Secession car park, in the middle of roaring traffic, without commentary. Ondák had borrowed them from friends in Bratislava.
Wolfgang Kos, 2005 (translation: Tim Sharp)Continue reading
Nach Rokytník. The collection of EVN, MUMOK, Vienna, 2005