Review of the exhibition KON.DOM by Jennifer De Felice

Posted on: July 4th, 2020 by & No Comments

I’ve been acquainted with the performance work of Klarisa Kleinerová and Jan Kratochvila for quite some time. In one of their earliest pieces made as their relationship was at its inception they stand face to face in a room in an apartment, shave each others heads and then through a technique of licking each others scalps apply bubblegum tattoo stickers to one another, confined in a focused looping action which never wavers energetically. Klarisa and Jan’s work always struck me as being definitively domestic. For this reason their presence on screen within the ScreenSaverGallery feels like a comfortable format. Keeping within a performative vernacular of stillness, predominant silence and concentration, their presence in the intimate space of our monitor where we generally hop between frames – scrolling, watching videos, culling information – pushes us subtly off balance; on-line we are allegro – they are andante. For this particular format they’ve chosen to intersplice their performance pieces with scenes from the intimate space of their home to which they were confined for the duration of the 2020 quarantine. There is nothing unpredictable about what they are doing and yet they are perfectly weird. They are a reminder of the surreal quality of what it means to be in the world, protagonists that move through a series of daily activities which through slight interventions and alterations become shared moments of introspection and manifestations of peculiarity. They alternate through states that border on catatonic, carrying out activities in which they seem to rely on one another in a static balancing act. There is something somber and yet touching about this testimony of their relationship. We are given no real indication of a back story, just documents of what feels like voluntary co-dependence in all its heaviness. Around the same time as I was asked to write something about KON.DOM (Conceptual Household) I was served up a video on YouTube by the young Korean illustrator and animator Puuung (Park Dami) from her cute series Love is… . While I was watching these short sketches of an ordinary young couple living in a shared household moving through various situations in which they resolve each others frustrations, sadness, anger, disappointment through mutual respect and empathetic interaction and interventions, I realised Klarisa and Jan’s interactions shared these same common denominators despite employing a different aesthetic language of private emotion. Theirs is not the adorable and marketable quality of Love is … it is its polar opposite. Love is … slapping your sleeping partner in the head with pillows, silently grieving while lying next to them, letting your ice cream cones melt in tandem, and howling in unison with your pooch. I’m somehow dubious their rituals were any different prior to lockdown.

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