Aleš Roleček about the Children exhibition

Indistinct Children

Introductory speech by Aleš Roleček, at the Děti [Children] exhibition at the Laboratorio Gallery, 28.11.2012

It seems that all attempts to capture the world that surrounds us only testify to how we are fumbling in the dark, and however varied the technologies used, the result is always a unilateral reality. It is one composed of us as the movers, and things we manipulate and immobilize to keep them in the our narrow field of vision. At the same time, the paradox of all this lies in the very fact that immobility requires such complex movements and relocations. And the result pitifully trails behind "reality". So it would seem perfectly legitimate to resign to reality and to openly admit how we are utterly missing it, and how impossible it is to reveal a world of artifacts borrowed from its reality. Perhaps it would be best to resort to that Mediaeval Platonic solution, that what is outwardly least similar actually captures the likeness best in the end, because it reaches somewhere beyond the object and the world itself. There, where not only are there images, but also the reality that creates the image. So if we look at the picture as a form, there are two possible solutions: to use all the technology we have (and we have more and more of it with every passing day and hour), and with profound, unswaying faith, to believe we can control the magic that will allow us to seize and possess it with the world, in objects that we have copied so perfectly that we can attach a greater value to them than than to the original; or: to accept the world behind the world, knowingly reaching beyond, and disbelieving anything that reality offers us. But in the world of words, about "paintings". But in the world of words, this is similar. Describing reality seems just as difficult as creating its likeness. Paintings have always only been matter on matter. The image is from the substrate on which the meaning of matter and the void adhere. This is a silly intellectual definition; a play on words, yet it is one which allows for insight into the confusing similarity offered by the acceptance of the picture as a whole. In the genesis of the picture, as first suggested by myth and later by science, in the beginning there is a sketched shadow, depicting a silhouette; the magic of the soul strapped to a place. And later, self-representation of power and success for showy exposure; just a slightly different form of magic. Photography is really just a slightly different form. Mass on matter, shadow and void — the light in between. The ease with which you can repeat everything is in itself also a slightly different phenomenon; or we can talk about the difficulty of accepting shadow and void; to accept the principle and create form from it at the same time. I mean by this the impossibility of reproduction of the principle, while the form can be repeated. We pass by small metal plates covered with greyish emulsion. I’d say they are more like things retrieved from the sea; as though they’ve been marked and burned with the bitterness of water; dissolved and re-precipitated; unfamiliar. Everything that has been written seems to be wrong; not even an attempt at reality; not consciously passed; what should I use as a measure for assessment? I have already used images to describe display, marking, burning, bitterness ... Everything is captured by technology that contradicts all the years of striving gained. Here is principle and form at once. If we accept this way of capturing and displaying the world, just as daguerrotypy makes possible, we also need to accept how things change. It does not renunciate reality, but fixes it firmly in order to be able to grasp it. At the same time it holds an awareness of how it reaches beyond when it turns its attention to the obsolete past. Portraits of children are even more peculiar in this context. The incinerator, enhanced with silver on the cathedral, and the severed head of an animal in the veil of a blur of mysticism are not so surprising. The child’s face, as a faded portrait of what should be a primarily vivid and cheerful rendition, raises uncertainty about who is expecting a common statement. Where do we find understanding? They brought them on stretchers ... the spectacle gave rise to great emotion. People wept, drowning in tears, consumed by grief. And when babies weep, and tears roll down their cheeks and hang on their lashes, they say: ‘It will rain.’ Their tears mean rain. This is how the ceremony of the sacrifice of children in Old Mexico is described: poetry with a gently horrific finality. As though one could hear between these images, the faces of children and the murmur of the rain, and the faces seemingly standing out then disappearing again in the damp fog. And some images inevitably remain indistinct, in order to remain faithful to themselves.