Agnieszka Polska, Nika Neelova, Svatopluk Mikyta | Reworking Memories

25 NOVEMBER 2011 – 28 JANUARY 2012

Federica Schiavo Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition Reworking Memories which features recent works of the three Eastern European artists: Agnieszka Polska, Svätopluk Mikyta and Nika Neelova. The works in this show refer to the process of acquisition, reworking and distortion of the most popular historical narratives of today and the methods of reporting individual forgotten stories. The three artists make a manipulation of language and memory, questioning the common ideas of archives perceived as the most authentic recording of people’s memory. In their practices, each artist focuses the attention on the potentialities of actual or fictional, collective or private, ‘archives’ for re-telling new narratives. They suggest us an unusual point of view on the ordinary rhetoric of history as well as on private mythologies.

Agnieszka Polska‘s main media are animation, video, and photography. In the gallery the Berlin-based Polish artist presents a project which includes the large-scale projection of the quasi documentary video How The Work Is Done and a selected body of works from her recent photographic series: Arton and How The Work Is Done. Agniezska Polska works in video and photography, referencing art historical motifs as she collages them with more prosaic found images. In doing so, she questions the veracity of archives and the historical narrative they seek to provide. How does the documentation of a work of art affect its later reception? Why does this documentation often seem more interesting than the documented object or event itself? Does the act of archiving serve to keep memory about selected cultural values alive or rather to negate those values that are not chosen to be archived? Most of Agniezska Polska’s videos or photographic projects focus on how misreading of the past leads art forward by creating new qualities and posing new questions. The archive – like each and every living organism – lives and changes without cease, endlessly multiplying images of itself. Elements that have been negated and rejected in the process of archiving later emerge as the dark matter of our subconscious.

Svätopluk Mikyta is a Slovak artist with a strong Central European identity. His work investigates and re-interprets the visual impact of images produced under different totalitarian regimes in Eastern and Central Europe during the 20th century. For the exhibition the artist has conceived a site-specific intervention, Society I and Society II, which shows his characteristic practice. He has been working for several years on a series of ‘over-drawings’ that he brings together as cycles and then develops in the style of installations. He takes high print-quality found photographic reproductions from old books and magazines and reworks them with various overlaying techniques. Sometimes his interventions are so refined that they give rise to something totally new in terms of both composition and theme. These interventions always show an unmistakable feeling for the graphic potential of the source material and for its historical essence, the collective psychology concealed within it. However, at the same time, Mikyta also explores the fate of the individual – including himself – within the context of the time. The intimate aspect of his work comes forward in a symbiosis with the reflection of ‘mass’ themes, both dimensions are a part of a compact whole. He says: “I like to doubt something which is perceived as untouchable and changeless. To instigate people to look at things from a different angle and that way maybe unobtrusively “kick” some theme or a problem”.

The Russian born and 2010 winner of the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations Nika Neelova debuts in her first Italian exhibition with the large-scale sculptural installation Relics. In this piece she is interested in working on the idea of merging reality and fiction and introducing parts of this fiction into the real world. It approaches the theme of the fairly distinguished and familiar legend of the unicorn and its subsequent explanation as a scientific fact to reveal the contradiction between the perception of fiction and the acceptance of reality. Neelova’s work engages with personal, collective and adopted histories. Her installations and sculptural interventions depict architectural structures narrated through the evocation of cultural or architectural features of places she has occupied or seen. Fragments of these spaces are rebuilt from materials salvaged from elsewhere, thereby negotiating a new space between actual and unknown histories. Neelova’s work becomes a cultural and historical displacement, also acknowledging the transience and persistence of time. The notion of time is central to Neelova’s work. The reliance on memory also explores its failure, where distortion and fragmentation replace the actual and complete. Therefore Nika Neelova constructs a complex set of correlations between the remembered, the forgotten, the actual and the ephemeral where these fractured indices take form in monumental, haunting, melancholy objects.

Federica Schiavo Gallery is also pleased to invite you, Wednesday 23 November 2011 at 6.30 pm, at the conversation with the three artists at the MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome – Conference Hall, Via Nizza 138 Roma. Free entrance. RSVP: –