HANOVER.- The Kestner Gesellschaft
is presenting the solo exhibition »In the Body of a Fish out of Water« by the Czech artist Eva Koťátková (*1982 in Prague, lives and works in Prague) in the buildings two upper exhibition halls. With around ten works, including drawings, videos, objects, and large-scale installations activated by performances, the artist creates new worlds that initially have a playful effect. Central themes of her works are everyday power relations and the effects of social norms on the human body and mind.
She draws on her work with children making their way through the education system and with people who are stigmatized as »mentally ill.« Koťátkovás steel frames, which recall body parts such as torsos, spines, and arms, or clothing with carefully finished holes where vital organs are located, have an oppressive effect: While they suggest the human body, they also invoke its captivity within normative structures.
The artist develops an alternative to these forms of oppression, inequality, and labeling with the central work of the exhibition, »Machine for Restoring Empathy« (2019), which will be shown for the first time in Germany. The walk-in installation, which recalls sewn-together pieces of clothing, becomes a living organism that encompasses animals, people, plants, objects, and their relationships with each other. As an example of Koťátkovás participatory approach, the work will be activated with sewing and storytelling workshops in which different groups of visitors share their experiences and continually develop the work.
In the exhibition, Koťátkovás works combine to form a network based on care, inclusion, and sympathy. People, animals, plants, and objects have equal standing in it. Imagination, which for Koťátková is not just a kind of reverie, but can bring about real changes in everyday life, becomes a connecting element in it.
The interaction between objects, drawings, videos, and performances questions the unconsciously or consciously learned rules that determine our thinking and behavior and opens up a new possibility of perceiving the world around us.
Eva Koťátková studied visual art in Prague, Vienna, and San Francisco. She has participated in numerous exhibitions around the world at venues including Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan (2018), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2018), 21er Haus in Vienna (2017), the Museum Haus Esthers in Krefeld (2016), and the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2014). Her works have been shown at the biennials in Istanbul (2019), Venice (2013), Sydney (2012), Lyon (2011), and Liverpool (2010).