Jan Jakub Kotík - Forces of Resistance

11 Oct 2012 – 14 Jan 2013

The work of Jan J. Kotík – an artist of American origin with Czech roots –
has been viewed primarily within the context of political engagement. After completing his studies at the studio of Hans Haacke at Cooper Union,
New York and a short period in NYC, Kotík has relocated to Prague where
he acquired his recognition as an artist. An influence of the American environment where he grew up and completed his studies remained
a strong influence in his work. The need to scrutinize and further question rooted socio-political structures nevertheless remained present in his work. The compartment to which he has been confined, due to the thematic focus of his work by the markedly apolitical environment of the Czech fine arts of the time, in many respects reduced the understanding of his practice exclusively to issues with which the Czech environment had great difficulty identifying at the turn of the millennium. Themes, such as the structure of the globalised society, the functioning of the world of huge corporations and their effect on the private space of the individual, still seemed far remote from the local context, which was in the process of the continuing post-communist transformation. Kotík thus gained recognition primarily through his conceptual approach to the object, which even despite his conspicuous social-political overlap, was quite remote from the rather superficial nature
of the so called “engaged art” of the 1990s.

The exhibition in the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art does not approach the work of this prematurely deceased author through the above politically contingent scope of themes symptomatic for Kotík's practice. Instead it represents an analytical view of the tools and construction elements which the author used for articulating and communicating political narrative in general. The exhibition will focus predominantly on works connected to the everyday domestic object, a symptomatic and reoccurring element in Kotík's work.

The aesthetic standpoints of the utilitarian object derived from the domestic environment, the modification of its formal qualities, a moment of an absurd shift or its frequently humorous reinterpretations, are for Kotík means of gaining a distance from reality, of verbalizing his attitudes and above all of continually questioning and disrupting the smooth functioning of dominant and omnipresent power. The aesthetic “quality” of Kotík's works is not a abyss of aesthetic contemplation which would reduce the actual content,
but on the contrary it is a means, a subversive power and fundamental construction element for communicating an important and universally shared politicum.

Although framed in a conceptual framework, the upcoming exhibition of Jan 
J. Kotík at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is a unique cross-section through the work of the artist. Besides a number well known works, a series of domestic object created during his studies at Cooper Union will be displayed for the very first time. The exhibition will also include a work by Hans Haacke, one of the most influential conceptual artist and founder of institutional critique whose influence on Kotíks practice, his approach to the subject, and areas of interest would be a mistake and pity to omit.

Curator: Markéta Stará