The evil spirit began to smoke through the wall

Daniela Baráčková

02.04. – 15.05.15

“Warhol’s prediction that everyone will once experience their fifteen minutes of world fame came true a long time ago. Many people now actually want exactly the opposite: to be invisible, if only for fifteen minutes. Even fifteen seconds would be nice. We entered the era of mass tabloid, information peak and exhibitionistic voyeurism. Glaring camera flashes turn people into victims, celebrities or both. By checking at cash desks, cash dispensers and other checkpoints, when our mobile phones reveal our slightest move and our photos are stamped with GPS coordinates – we don’t end up entertained to death, but rather pixelated into pieces.

I’ve been noticing for quite some time that many people actively start avoiding being seen in a photograph or a video and they secretly try to stay away from camera and camcorder lenses. … In the middle of omnipresent media landscape the visual representation – that was long considered a political privilege – is perceived rather as a threat.

In the era of digital native people, old magical fear of photographing has seen its resurrection. However, in this environment cameras don’t steal souls (the native people changed the digital ones for iPhones), but they suck out life. … It would actually be wrong to think that cameras are tools of representation: at present they are tools for disappearing”.
Hito Steyerl
Labyrint Revue 35-36

“Stáť smiem” (approx. “I may be standing”), a song by the Slovak band eSPé, can be heard inside the Orangery of the Břevnov Monastery, the oldest male monastery in the Czech Republic where the Benedictine Order has its seat. We enter while a pianist is playing his part with other musicians around, out of our sight. Our aural perception is complemented with this visual fragment.
In another part of the world, a school for an evangelic mission is being built, the foundations were finished a long time ago, now walls are being built and basic features of the building are becoming apparent: windows, entrance, everything is starting to show the future function of the premises.
The school was actually built a long time ago, this is just a documentary photograph, a moment frozen in time.
Delicate moments of colonisation are a widely reflected history. Post-colonial studies analyse every single decent nuance of the expansiveness of western political power and culture to the rest of the world. Still, the question of evangelisation and conversions to Christianity under current mission remains unformulated.
The intimacy of a detailed view of the musician’s back of the neck and his inward feelings, evoked by his interpretation of the composition, causes embarrassment. We enter the deepest privacy of a man, his beliefs, his faith transmitted by his body moves.
Walking through the longitudinal space of the Entrance Gallery on its typical brick-red floor, connecting on an architectonic ground plan a monastery in the outskirts of Prague with a vision of a school under construction at an unspecified place in India, we get to another musician, the video now showing a full frontal view of a drummer sitting at the end of the building.
Losing boundaries of personal space in the virtual smog of infinite publishing still has its partial limits. Simple Google Search enables us to live through birth and death, natural or violent. We are resistant against the messages we are being told, in the same way as we are resistant against various forms of human being humiliation. Nevertheless, a view of young musicians may still make us shiver. The vision goes too deep. How shall we cope with it?

A young man called Dharm Nath from Jaynagar (a town in the vicinity of borders with Nepal in the very north of India) was freed from the presence of an evil spirit. Sahni describes: “Local preachers prayed for a long time, but the evil spirit did not respond, so I got a little angry inside. I seized him by his hair, held him and we started praying, then the evil spirit immediately left him.”
Despite the absolute interconnection of our virtual world we lack the ability to actually differentiate data according to their relevance, as it disappears somewhere in space and time. Virtual smog, criticised by Hito Steyerl’s words and works, may be identical to the evil spirit smoking over the wall. The smoke is changing its shape, dimensions, loses its colours and disappears, although it succeeds in overcoming the wall.
Daniela depicts something her very own that is close to her, carrying the most personal message, while being fully aware of the risk of losing the context, fogging the information into imaginary smoke that carries it on. A man behind the wall does not see the original shape of the ephemeral signal, same as its originators have no idea what may happen with their message as soon as it disappears out of their sight.

Text by Jen Kratochvil