Štěpánka Šimlová: Go and Don’t Shoot
Curator: Helena Musilová
Coordinator: Jana Šmídmajerová (NG)
Layout: Michal Šiml
Oficial website: www.jdianestrilej.cz
Fifth floor, Respirium, Veletržní Palace
The installation Go and Don't Shoot is a continuation of a National Gallery in Prague project that canvasses the work of young and middle generation artists. Štěpánka Šimlová's exhibition is based on her personal experience during a sojourn in the Karen (Kayin) State in Burma (Myanmar), which has been plagued by decades of military conflict and ethnic clashes.
In addition to the artist's videos forming a part of the Veletržní Palace installation, she assembled the material for the documentary film The Art of Surviving the Longest War in the World produced in cooperation with a Czech team (Barbora Stejskalová and others). The changing political situation in Burma and the attention focused on its political and civic circumstances lend the project particular urgency and timeliness. While the installation's primary purpose is to raise awareness of the ever-present latent danger of war, the artist expands this theme to a much more general level - simply, the fight between good and evil, with no chance of accurately identifying the reasons behind or stimuli for evil, the "right" side. One can move within a milieu that is seemingly ideal and friendly, but that hides mortal danger not only in a war zone but, figuratively, anywhere. Basic emotions such as fear, uncertainty or expectation can be evoked even in our civilized world, far from martial conflict.
The art project will be accompanied by a number of complementary activities including a screening of the documentary film, workshops based on the installation and activities linked with the humanitarian organization People in Need (Člověk v tísni).
Štěpánka Šimlová (1966), one of the Czech Republic's most distinctive visual artists, entered the art scene around the time of the Velvet Revolution (1989). Her work reflects, among other things, the processes and transformations that art has undergone in past years. Not content with expressing herself in a single medium, she engages in painting, drawing, photography and video, and installations and site-specific art projects. She was one of the first artists in the Czech Republic to begin experimenting with the digital image and its manipulation. Many of her artworks were a response to the political or social situation, e.g. the project Chinese Ads, Little Prayers, China Town, Tokyo in 2000, which inserted children's prayers into message boards used for neon advertisements and commercials in the busy city. An aircraft flying dangerously close to a skyscraper in one of the prints seemed to anticipate the events of 2001 and in so doing to reference the transcendent character of art in general.
Štěpánka Šimlová last presented her work at the National Gallery in Prague in the exhibition Allied: Artists Supported by the Jana and Milan Jelinek Foundation. She is represented in the collections of the National Gallery in Prague as well as the permanent exhibition of contemporary Czech art at the Veletržní Palace.