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Europe

Roman Ondak
Slowed-down Journey

As the caption purposely admits, these drawings were made by friends of Ondák’s at home in Slovakia asked to interpret places he has journeyed to. The description of the blond artist wearing the same outfit and bag in places of transit like airports, stations or streets are faithful in straightforward (verging on naïve) styles. His own skill as artist is displaced and delegated to others with no particular gift in draftsmanship. Taking the role of a commissioner recurs regularly in Ondák’s work, other examples include Common Trip (2000) constituted with 128 elements, I’m Just Acting in It (2007) with 24 drawings, for instance.
These eight drawings were placed in variegated simple home decoration frames to create a sort of storyboard for the artist’s life. For political, personal or economic reasons, not everyone has similar possibilities for mobility. Ondák’s act of sharing his memories expands the potential impact of art for a different public, made actors on these occasions. The interpretations give different viewpoints but maintain a certain continuity, as if it is the artist’s travelogue once removed. The repetitive descriptions of a walking man have interesting parallels with Francis Alys’s two-dimensional work.

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 .