Barbora Šlapetová, Lukáš Rittstein - Manop, The Final First

6 Mar – 17 May 2009

DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is proud to present the exhibition by Barbora Šlapetová and Lukáš Rittstein, Manop, Final First, inspired by their repeated travels to West Papua and interactions with isolated tribes in the jungle. The exhibition consists of large format photographs by Šlapetová, confronted by a series of Rittstein’s sculptures titled Forest.

Lukáš Rittstein, one of the most prominent Czech sculptors and a Laureate of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award explains why he turns to indigenous communities in the jungle for inspiration: “At the very “end” of civilization, there is a place where you learn the most about yourself. I, a sculptor balancing between reality and abstraction, must admit that I find an area that’s dominated by pure animism extremely attractive for its promise of a great spiritual depth. This is attained via the confrontation of my creative way of thinking with the native way of understanding reality developed by people who, on the other hand, see no boundary separating the natural from the supernatural“.

Part of the exhibition is comprised of quotes taken from interviews of various tribe members, conveying their beliefs about Earth and Space. Some Papuans believe, for example, that Earth is made up of three floors, between which only chosen individuals can travel. Or that animals eyes travel up to the night sky and look down upon Earth. In an effort to initiate a dialogue between our world and the world of traditional societies, Rittstein and Slapetova invited two personas from our modern civilization to be present at the opening, Mr. Leroy Chiao, the first Asian American astronaut (chosen by the artists) and Václav Havel.

Barbora Šlapetová says: “In 2002 we befriended tribal chief Don’t Come Any Closer, and he expressed his wish to talk to our chief. Based on this request we asked Mr. Vaclav Havel, who prepared several questions for the chief. We wanted to show them what we do, our profession, so we decided to cast molds of their bodies. Lukas would then return these casts to the tribesmen after Havel places them inside a sculptural object intended to return to West Papua. This object was then placed on a tree in the jungle and the tribesmen would cut out the cast objects. It became a dialogue between the tribe, Vaclav Havel and ourselves.”

Three publications are being released in conjunction with the exhibition: Don’t Come Any Closer, comprised of Barbora Šlapetová’s photographs and interviews with Papuan tribesmen, published by the Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery and Euromedia Group k.s. – Book Club. The second is a monograph of Lukáše Rittstein, offering a retrospective view of all his sculptural works to date. The catalogue of the exhibition, which documents the installation of the show at DOX, well will be available shortly after the opening. All the publications are available in English.

Manop, The Final First, is accompanied by a series of lectures focused on the common theme of Civilization and traditional communities. Through the eyes of photographers and renowned Czech explorers the series will take a closer look at the relationship between the civilized world to “primitive” societies including the problematics of contact and interaction .