20. October 2022 - 29. January 2023
Rudolfinum Gallery, Alšovo nábřeží 12, Praha 1
20. October 2022 - 29. January 2023
Francis Alÿs, Michael Armitage, Maria Bartuszová, Bianca Bondi, Louise Bourgeois, Geta Brătescu, Edith Dekyndt, Susanna Fritscher, William Kentridge, Kapwani Kiwanga, Dominik Lang, Luboš Plný, Anri Sala, Vivian Suter, Alina Szapocznikow, Barthélémy Toguo, Anna Zemánková
Fragility has emerged in recent years as a key concept through which to reimagine both human and ecological conditions. The exhibition fragilités unfolds the concerns, visions, and sensibilities expressed by artists who have engaged deeply with fragility and reflected on its tensions, complexities and paradoxes. The traditional meaning of fragility – weakness, powerlessness, passivity – is challenged, and claimed instead as a source of force and agency that encourages sustaining interdependencies.
The exhibition brings together several generations, beginning with a web of connections between the oeuvres of Louise Bourgeois, Maria Bartuszová, Geta Brătescu and Alina Szapocznikow. Sensual and reflective, the transformative fragility in their work proposes alternatives to the dominant ideas of the human body as a complete and integrated entity. Distinctions between wholeness and fragmentation, sensuality and abjection, male and female remain blurred in the organic fluidity of their forms. Their innovative explorations embraced what we might today call the écologie du sensible, a profound intuitive attention and response to our environments.
The spirit of these pioneers is shared by the exhibition’s contemporary artists, most of whom will be presented in the Czech Republic for the first time. Their approach to fragility speaks to our present moment and its concerns, principally an increased awareness of the interdependence of the body and the shifting equilibrium of nature. These artists include Francis Alÿs, Bianca Bondi, Edith Dekyndt, Susanna Fritscher, Kapwani Kiwanga, Anri Sala, and Vivian Suter. Their work explores the fragile coexistence of humans and the world surrounding them, and the need to seek connections and commonalities between human and non-human agencies. Working with objects, processes, and ecosystems, they also imagine complex new relationships with our environments, suggesting novel and unprecedented ways to coexist.
Other artists in the exhibition seek to portray the instability of human nature by embracing transfiguration and metamorphosis. The mutability and porosity of bodies is explored in the work of Michael Armitage, William Kentridge, Dominik Lang, Barthélemy Toguo, Luboš Plný and Anna Zemánková. These artists share an interest in shifting and changing anatomies and identities, as well as open, fluid, and unpredictable forms. They consider the body to be a fragile vessel, unfinished and transitory, interconnected and interdependent.
The understanding that all living things are dependent on their environment and each other has intensified in the context of current crises. These ideas have already been developed by artists and thinkers who have for many years stressed the invisible bonds that link us to other beings, and the myriad ways in which we are entangled with wider ecosystems. In response to these ideas, the exhibition invokes fragility as a lens and language, claiming that neither vulnerability nor power come in expected guises, and that the fragile connections between bodies and the earth constitute real strength.
Curators: Elena Sorokina, Silvia Van Espen