Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová
Like a sail yearning to fly, the orange parachute draws toward the airspace in the very whitest corners of the old ironworks. Yet firmly clenched hands grip the lines and hold them fast, the parachute anchored through the unconquerable power of many people. This is not a matter of adventurous travel or building castles in the air. Here, it is about staying firmly on the ground. Clenched fists often recur as a symbol of struggle. The fist, held high in the air, becomes an expression of resistance and uprising, of change and revolution, and yes, also of assurance of victory. For many, the fist may conjure scenes from the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, where medallists raised their fists in protest of the discrimination and oppression of black people. Just this year, in Sweden, a photograph of a lone woman raising a fist against marching Nazis became the Photo of the Year. The clenched fist is also recognized as body language for anger – and if the situation becomes heated, the fist may strike. Artist duo Anetta Mona Chişa och Lucia Tkáčová twist this perspective. The battle for dignified conditions cannot be fought only through rebellious manifestations at the occasional solemn or high-profile event. It risks then becoming just an empty gesture. The work Down is the New Up confirms the artists’ views: Change is achieved through our engagement, every day, methodically and relentlessly. We have to begin with the basics and not get carried away. The new must be built from the ground up. Here in Avesta Art, the orange colour blazes as if in commemoration of the fires in the furnaces – the fire that consumed the oxygen and gave the ore such heat that the iron was liberated. The orange cloth calls for attention and renewal. The motif becomes particularly strong here, when the hands holding the struggle for change have painted fingernails. It may be that women and queer people will lead the way. At the very top of the crown of the blast furnace, we meet a clenched fist with a new twist. Either Way, We Lose depicts an inflated and grotesquely enlarged fist. Instead of frightening, it gives off an almost laughable impression. The fist, which should be hard and ready to strike, is here soft and so light that it seems ready to float away – like a balloon at a funfair. No, it is not haughty words that will change the world, the artists seem to be saying. Close by is a pile of paving stones – a simple everyday material which seems almost to be a remnant from the ironworks age. Perhaps another work will be erected here? But paving stones are also used in combat. When placards and chanted words do not reach their audience, demonstrations come to nothing and paving stones become weapons to be used against those defending their power and rule of law. In Anetta Mona Chişas and Lucia Tkáčovás installation Clash!, the paving stones are actually made of the most delicate porcelain. They are light, brittle objects, and the eggshell-thin material is handpainted with meticulous accuracy. Only gentle hands can wield the stones without breaking them. Clash! grows to a sermon about doing things properly from the start. That you must build from the ground up to make something that will endure. That, like the paving stones, we are all different and every part of this flowering diversity must be respected – both among us humans and in nature that is the prerequisite for human life on Earth. That solutions are not simple, and that both resistance and the struggle for change must be borne by these many people, every day. Anetta Mona Chişa was born in Romania and Lucia Tkáčová in Slovakia. They met while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, and have worked as a duo since graduating in 2000. They now live and work in Prague and Berlin. Their art explores the social, societal, historical and political aspects of our existence. Issues of gender and of the meeting between Western and Eastern European ideals and norms are recurring themes. Avesta Art is the artist duo’s first exhibition in Sweden.