The Stillness of a Departure

The Stillness of a Departure
Artists: Mirak Jamal, Anna Ročňová, Sung Tieu
Polansky Gallery, Prague
Curated by Christina Gigliotti
May 24th - July 15th 2017
Photography: Martin Polák
All images copyright of the artist and Polansky Gallery
Full exhibition documentation at Polansky Gallery

Heels slap the pavement – yours. Fruit is rotting in the refrigerator, and someone speaks calmly in an indeterminable language. The stillness of your departure blankets everything.

On a walk I notice the street debris under my shuffling feet. Staying still makes the whirlwind come into focus. There are personal touches on yellowing doorways. Greetings. Someone is sitting and waiting, shifting his eyes, scanning.

Looking too long at thrown out mattresses on the street makes me feel like a voyeur getting an uninvited glimpse of a naked belly. I’m fixated on the stains and rips and indentations from encounters. Sleep, make-up smudges, stray curly hairs. Imaginary feet are entwined.

You’re all alone on a 747, and you made the mistake of bringing your old self to the new place. You are a self-imposed exile, trying to understand what it means to arrive and depart.

This exhibition sprung from conversations with Sung Tieu about her life and work, which are inextricably intertwined. Tieu migrated from Vietnam to Germany when she was 5 years old with her mother. Part of the way, they traveled on foot through Czech forests to reach the German border. Her works serve as the base for the exhibition The Stillness of a Departure, which deals with movement, memory, and the silence in between coming and going.

Tieu commissioned the nail panels in the exhibition to be painted by employees of nail salons in Germany, which are mainly run by people of Vietnamese origin. She gave them blank metal sheets, and asked them to paint whatever they wished. The intention was to engage with this community and ask them to express themselves on a larger format than usual. The results were surprising, beautiful, sometimes funny. I was moved by the idea of this self-expression, which then lead me to start organizing this exhibition around artists who seemed to carve out a place for themselves using their experiences, memories, and often shifting surroundings.

Through Mirak Jamal's work, one can notice motifs of moving bodies, nods to the recent past, and figures struggling to fit into rigid architectural structures, sometimes appearing to burst out of them.The work of Anna Ročňová can be seen as a gathering, an endeavor to create something from the materials that surround her in every day life. In this case, nature and man-made materials layer on top of one another, referring to a kind of slow accumulation that happens as time passes.