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Europe

Roman Ondak
Awaiting Enacted

This work needs to be considered in relation to one of his performances during which people were made to queue in front of the Kunsthalle of Frankfurt in 2003 (Tate Collection). In this instance Ondak collected images of people queuing in front of all sorts of buildings in various newspapers. He then inserted these in a Slovakian newspaper without trying to give any coherence with the information in the text on the same page. The result is a fictional space with the potential for the invention of different scenarios. The theme of people queuing encourages the consideration of the relation between interior and exterior but also of exclusion. It can also be a reference to deprivation during periods of war or economic depression. In the manner of works by Felix Gonzales-Torres, the audience can take a copy of the newspaper which therefore leaves the exhibition space. The fact that the message or the artwork circulates is an integral part of the artistic gesture. People lining up behind one another also formally becomes a living sculpture. The refusal to allow the object to be recouped by the flux of liberal economy echoes the refusal of any monumentality which was used so often by authoritarian regimes.

In 2009, Roman Ondák won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for Loop, the Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics, for which he brought the same plant-life and trees growing outside inside. This highly considered installation epitomizes Ondák's work. With often discreet, tongue-in-cheek, conceptual, participatory modes, he succeeds in profoundly questioning the art world and its established quirks, exhibition spaces, behaviors like queuing, labeling or various pedagogical approaches, visitor experience, any misplaced preciousness about authenticity or authorship. Various tactics (asking friends for drawings) or forms (shoelaces for instance) recur in his photographs, performances, installations, videos.
Borderlines are deliberately blurred between the exhibition space and reality. This is infused by his relation to each specific project context and by his own ongoing experience of changing Eastern Europe.

Roman Ondak was born in 1966 in Zilina, Slovakia. Lives and works in Bratislava .