Poetry Passage#3: Silent Eternity


Date: 24.06.2016 - 18.09.2016
Place: Trade Fair Palace

Bernadette Corporation, Katinka Bock

Curated by Adam Budak

After having examined poetry’s role as a paradigm-changing resource (along the lines of „Bifo“ Berardi’s Poetry and Finance) in the Poetry Passage#1 and poetry’s ability to produce sense (according to Deleuze’s Logic of Sense) in the Poetry Passage#2, the third exhibition etude in the National Gallery’s Poetry Passage series refers to Jacques Rancière’s elaboration of poetry in Mallarmé. The Politics of the Siren (1996). The French philosopher celebrates the poem as „the supreme consecration because it is the supreme artifice, replete with the ability to elevate the traces of writing on a white page 'to the heights of the starry sky', the fan which identifies the movement of its folds with this doubling of the sensory, this play of appearing and disappearing which turns silent eternity into the space of a world". 

The Poetry Passage#3 twists definitions and approaches while offering a journey through the mani-folded pathways of poetry’s meaning and giving access to the language’s power to oscillate between the depth and the surface. The masterful and delirious „Hell Frozen Over“ (2000) by New York-based collective, Bernadette Corporation (formed in 1994) is, in the artists’ own words, „a fashion film about the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and the color white." Featuring an improvised lecture on Mallarmé, delivered on a frozen lake by a French semilogist Sylvère Lotringer, the film explores the ideas of nothingness, emptiness, and vacuity. Here, in this rollercoaster of mass-cultural references and within the social templates of fashion and poetry, the predominance of surface is both celebrated and critiqued. Bernadette Corporation’s cinematic essay sets up a poetic pace for a spatial appearance of the sculptural work of the German artist Katinka Bock (1976). Yet again the functionalist staircase of theTradeFairPalace provides a passage for forms and thoughts to mingle and morphe. Between the minimalist decor of domesticated interior and the referential space of collective imagination, here and now, as the philosopher predicts, the „silent eternity“ appears and disappears as the „space of the world“.

Katinka Bock’s gestural, arte povera-like sculptures are hybridic constructions which articulate the poignant status of objects and their function as vessels of a (suspended) meaning and formal diversity. Proudly vertical and well-balanced, generously eclectic, descending the staircase like Duchampian characters, they retain their autonomy as uncanny personages of a thrilling narrative yet to come. Combining contrasting materials of clay, wood, steel and glass, the sculptures mesmerize the senses; their frailty recalling the process of poetic creation, the vulnerability of poetry, the fragility of the surface tension, ultimately - the promise of depth. These are the „vases for words“ on a catwalk of the Poetry Passage, precious containers of poetic imagination and sensitivity, totems of a new language, semi-full, semi-empty, exposed to poet’s torment and desire. Like the neo-dadaistic author of an automatic writing, the artist explores the sites of junctions, the moments when the meaning is seemingly born out of chance and spontaneity, and the words achieve their clarity and shape as a solid linguistic construction. Simultaneously estranged and tamed, as versatile creatures, the sculptures inhabit both, the surface and the depth, dreaming of a heterotopic location yet to be found and appropriated. A new surface in-between the margins, „the fan of the poem“? A new depth rediscovered behind the curtain of a book dedication? 

Here and now, the Poetry Passage#3 offers a poem as „a process of disappearance and substitution“, a process which „transforms every 'solid and preponderant' reality (for example, a ship on sea waters in a tempest, a king's daughter or a flower in a vase) into an inconsistent and glorious simulacrum (the siren, the white water lily or that which is absent from every bouquet)". (Rancière)

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Metro C – Vltavská
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tz_narodni-galerie-zahajuje-letni-vystavni-sezonu-4.pdf (TZ_Národní galerie zahajuje letní výstavní sezónu)
press-release_national-gallery-in-prague-opens-a-summer-exhibition-season-5.pdf (Press release_National Gallery in Prague opens a summer exhibition season)
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