Roman Ondák

Opening: Friday, September 29 at 7pm.

The exhibition will run from September 29
until December 16 2006

<version française>

Here or Elsewhere

CAC Brétigny

Here or Elsewhere is the title chosen by Roman Ondák for the opening, at Brétigny’s Centre d’art contemporain, of his solo show, which he develops throughout the year; it replaces the working title (One Year Solo Show 2005-2006). But the September 29 opening is neither the starting point of his project, nor its point of arrival. Without following any particular protocol, Is that the way it was? opened the artist’s monographic project at the CAC Brétigny in November 2005, during ‘The Void’, the exhibition of work by R&Sie(n), the architects François Roche, Stéphanie Lavaux and Jean Navarro. Roman Ondák’s work recycles the architectonic qualities of the site, opening up a different perspective on the space, transforming our perception of temporalities both past and present and leaving us uncertain as to whether the memories and spatial points of reference that have been called upon are the artist’s or our own. Presented in Prague in 1998 and recreated in Brétigny by Roman Ondák, this installation was an introduction to his project for an exhibition of unusual length and form.
It was followed in January 2006 by a second intervention, Awaiting Enacted, that took place at CAC Brétigny during the Clemens Von Wedemeyer and Maya Schweizer exhibition (and that included the auditioning for and shooting of their film). This new work was a stack of newspapers that had originally been produced for Leipzig’s Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, in 2003, and whose illustrations were replaced by press photographs of people queuing. Installed in the ‘Annexe’, an information space designed by Atelier Van Lieshout for the Art Centre, these free newspapers were made available to the public as if to better accentuate the visitor’s anticipation of the work, increasing his desire to understand it and his frustration at not being able to do so completely. Roman Ondák, who sees the artwork as subject to the principle of merchandisation, takes the work’s procedure to crisis point. He presents the queue as a news item, associated with both the scarcity and the abundance of merchandise, in the East as in the West. He exposes an authoritarian economic language that dictates and forbids. With Awaiting Enacted, Roman Ondák short-circuits the equilibrium between offer, demand and product satisfaction; the queue becomes an artwork, it becomes the event. Interview, the third of Roman Ondák’s interventions, appeared on one of the Centre’s walls in March 2006, during the public showing of the Berlin artists’ film ‘Rien du tout’. Interview is a discussion that the artist reactualises with the representatives of the structures that invite him to exhibit. Visitors experience a feeling of impersonality when they realise – through reading the transcription of the dialogues – that these are no more than the reproduction of a stereotypical English lesson. Here, the communication with the other has been reduced to an abstract and functional language whose subjectivity has been falsified. Roman Ondák inverts the principle of Ian Wilson’s ‘Conversation Piece’. Where the conceptual artist withheld the content of the discussion while reducing it to a vestige – the simple announcement of the date at which the conversation took place – Roman Ondák’s Interview uses a dialogue written in advance to portray the encounter between the artist and the institution’s representative. The opening of Markus Schinwald’s exhibition at CAC Brétigny on April 9, 2006 was the occasion chosen by Roman Ondák for the introduction of a performance Resistance that had been presented at the Mumok in Vienna a few days earlier, and that he reactivated for Brétigny. Resistance used local people, who had been contacted beforehand, and who turned up at Markus Schinwald’s opening with undone shoelaces. In this piece the artist works on the ritual of the opening, introducing discourse into the midst of the spectators, and leaving them uncertain as to the identity of the discourse’s creator. He brings in a mark of resistance – resistance to order and to language – that expresses itself in the work through a silent act that suggests the pre-language stage of childhood. It Will All Turnout Right in the End, a work co-produced with the Tate Modern, was presented in London in July, and will be shown in September at CAC Brétigny. It is a rigorous three-dimensional reproduction of the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern, into which the visitor is invited to enter. This monumental scale model upsets the hierarchy of spatial points of reference, eliciting an impression that oscillates incessantly between the sensation of being a child and that of being a giant, of dominating and of being dominated. It is by acting on scale, on the reduction and magnification of places and historical periods, that institutions impose their spatio-temporal viewpoint on us; Ondák uses the same means to expose them. As the title Here or Elsewhere clearly emphasises, Roman Ondák’s work and his shows propose other criteria of appreciation – of the other, of memory, of need and desire, of speech, of the institution and of language. In short, his work and his exhibitions induce the experience of a disruption of the categories of creation and of the perception of the creative process. It Will All Turnout Right in the End is the new piece that completes the body of work already presented at CAC Brétigny, but there is no guarantee that it will be the last…

The official invitation communicating the mode of exhibition was preceded, not by any sort of obligatory protocol, but by choices made in collaboration with the artist. By favouring the experience shared with Roman Ondák on site, the decision to show works disseminated over a whole year developed from the options chosen. The artist and the Brétigny Art Centre decided together on the way the different pieces of this monographic project would be added one to the other, superimposed on each other or alternated with the works and the exhibitions of the other artists being shown at Brétigny. In this way, other artists were included in the supervision of Roman Ondák’s pieces, during their own exhibitions. The conception of this monographic project and the different ways it has been presented are the fruit of discussions with the artist; discussions about his way of dealing with past, present and future temporalities that are part of the experience, about the use of displacement in his creative process, and about the use of intermediaries in the diffusion of his work.

In a society that is under the diktat of the cultural product, Roman Ondák’s Here or Elsewhere offers the public the opportunity to take part in the rhythm of the artistic process. While globalisation renders all merchandise – here as elsewhere – uniform and available, the artwork never gives itself completely; it is both here and elsewhere. With Roman Ondák, the exhibition offers itself – Here or Elsewhere – as an alternative to the standardisation of art.

Pierre Bal-Blanc

Is that the way it was?

Awaiting Enacted



It Will All Turnout Right in the End

Is that the way it was?
City Gallery Prague, 1998
CAC Brétigny, 2005

A bench made from a section of the gallery’s
false wooden wall; a hole made in the glass
façade of the Art Centre, in correlation with the
circular entry of a bird house fixed to the glass
on the outside of the building.

Awaiting Enacted
Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, 2003
Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Centre d’Art
Contemporain, Bignan, 2004
CAC Brétigny, 2006

A 16 page newspaper filled entirely with pictures
of people waiting in queues. Endless reprint.

Galerie Martin Janda, Vienne, 2005
gb agency, FIAC, Paris, 2005
gb agency, Paris, 2005
CAC Brétigny, 2006

Conversation between Roman Ondák and
Pierre Bal-Blanc, when they met for the first
time at an English course for beginners.

Mumok, Vienne, 2006
CAC Brétigny, 2006

During the opening a group of people have their
shoes laces untied.
They have been confidentially contacted and this
performance is not announced to the public.

It Will All Turnout Right in the End
Tate Modern, Londres, 2006
CAC Brétigny, 2006

A scale model of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.