Ján Mančuška, A Gap

5 September – 17 October 2020


Text k výstavě v češtině.

hunt kastner is very pleased to present a solo exhibition of work by Ján Mančuška, centered on a film installation from 2007 entitled “A Gap”. The exhibition, organized in cooperation Meyer Riegger as part of the SUMO 2020 gallery co-op program, is the first time that the work has been exhibited since its premiere in 2007. Consisting of four simultaneous videos with soundtracks, the work was created specifically for Meyer Riegger’s gallery space and, characteristic of the artist’s practice, critically works with the method of constructing a story and the possibilities of transforming a space using dramatic structures. Here, Mančuška not only worked with the given space, but he also called on the audience to interact by forcing them to move throughout the space in order to understand the story.

In “A Gap”, the screenplay, characters and the film’s story were largely derived from the gallery floor plan. The story of three linked people (Ivan, Eva and the Other) meeting in relationships on varying emotional levels, is played out in three videos interspersed throughout the main gallery space. An injury to the central character has him forgetting the previous events: it’s up to the others whether to reveal the actual state of things to him. The protagonist featured in the last film (He) is separated from the other characters by the gap of an empty room; isolated from the others and the main story line, his link to the other characters only occurs indirectly at the very end of the film.

The film’s story is gradually presented in four videos, which all play simultaneously; each representing one character and positioned independently of each other in the space. Time gaps initially separate individual scenes and the viewer can easily move from one film to the next and follow the sequence the film’s story. As the tempo gradually speeds up, the sequences of each narrative begin to overlap until it reaches the point when all the videos are playing at the same time. To understand the full story, all the dramatic links of the characters must be watched and the viewer is forced to return back to each character again and again, and to use their memory to construct the film’s full story. All of this is played out in the film’s gaps, just as the gap is the theme of the film itself. The gallery’s physical space also has a gap that becomes a passageway between the video projections, thereby materializing the void.

Created specifically for the Meyer Riegger gallery space in Karlsruhe, “A Gap”, presented a unique choice and challenge to re-exhibit, as Mančuška himself knew it would be. We had to both recreate and to readdress the corresponding space in order for the work to be comprehensible. In working through how to most faithfully re-exhibit this installation thirteen years later, we are indebted to the Ján Mančuška Estate, and to the artist and close friend of Mančuška, Tomáš Svoboda, who provided us with invaluable insight, assistance and expertise.

Ján Mančuška (b. 1972, Bratislava – d. 2011, Prague) appeared on the Czech art scene in the late 1990s, together with a group of fellow students from AVU as the Headless Horseman collective (Josef Bolf, Jan Šerých and Tomáš Vaněk). A 2004 laureate of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award for young artists, he early on established himself as a unique voice on the international art scene as well. His art works are part of major institutional collections, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and MoMa in New York, and his work has been featured at the Czech and Slovak Pavilion of the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2007), Kunsthalle Basel (2008), and the posthumous exhibition “First Retrospective” at the Prague City Gallery and Slovak National Gallery in 2015.
Very special thanks to Julia Hölz, Tomáš Svoboda, Marta Borowiecová, Štěpán Pech, Vít Havránek, Eva Koťátková and Dominik Lang for their help and support in making this exhibition possible. We would also like to thank the Czech Ministry of Culture and the City of Prague for their ongoing support of our exhibition program.