One–Legged Pigeon

  • Site-specific installation
  • Kostka Gallery
  • Meetfactory
  • Prague
  • 2021

Barbora Zentková and Julia Gryboś created one of their most monumental installations to date for the Kostka Gallery. In this work, they formally develop methods and materials they have used in the past, layering and reconfiguring them into a new aesthetic whole. They respond to the centralised disposition of the gallery with a central composition that creates the effect of a stage (which paves the way for a musical performance at the opening, making the stage come alive). The artists thus apply, once again, their approach to the exhibition as a holistic environment that includes the spectator. The feeling that we ourselves are drawn into the work is achieved partly by the scale of the eight metre textile „wall“ and partly through a dialogue between the vertical and horizontal planes, which has become an indelible part of the style of this artistic duo. Their long term interest in various forms of weaving has now materialised into the form of a minimalist variation on macramé – a centuries ‑old technique of „knotting“ that is currently gaining popularity again. This time, the artists transformed the complex weaving of recycled constructions from previous exhibitions into a considerably smoother form that brings together residual materials (ropes and linoleum) and custom made metal frames. The slow gradient of pastel colours reminiscent of the tints of colour in a sunset also brings about an effect of peace and harmony. We can interpret One‑Legged Pigeon as an exhibition with which the artists move into a new creative chapter. It is not a radical leap – rather a gradual development that follows a number of previous exhibition projects in both form and content, thematising human labour, efficiency pressure in late capitalism, and the chronic fatigue that arises from it. The motif of tension followed by potential collapse, however, is replaced by release. The artists chose to use the yoga asana Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (known colloquially as the „one‑legged pigeon“), which is primarily intended to loosen the hip joints. According to Ayurvedic medicine, stress and negative emotions are accumulated here, so the pigeon pose is adequate to lower these. Mastering this position therefore often results in tears. Zentková and Gryboś sense the therapeutic potential of the process of creating this installation. Handiwork and the slowness connected with it bring an experience of calm and fulfilment. As if gradual, repetitive work allowed for a different experience of time than that imposed on us by the impatient spirit of today. During the last year and a half, all of us had to slow down a little – at least temporarily and at least in some respects. I found the time to practice yoga again after many years, while my friend learned to do macramé during the lockdown. Now, we’re back to having no time. How can we make the experience of slowing down a universal principle and not merely an escapist method of individual relaxation? And is the notion of slowing down not a mere chimera that merely delays the acceleration of the collapse which alone can bring true catharsis? Tension or release? Exhaustion or rest? Acceleration or slowing down? Our current exhibition by Barbora Zentková and Julia Gryboś does not provide a definite decision, but rather represents a movement on this oscillating curve.

The project was realised thanks to a stipend by the Slovak Arts Council.