Jennifer Helia DeFelice: Make a Selection
September 5 – November 25, 2018
opening: September 4, 2018
Gabriela Kotiková: Jennifer, you come from New York, but you have been living in the Czech Republic for quite some time now; you speak Czech very well. What had brought you to the decision to move to Europe?
Jennifer Helia DeFelice: I think it's more my indecisiveness that's behind it. A kind of intuitive problem solving mechanism. One could argue that there are unconscious processes that are behind decisions that appear to be arbitrary, that you are in control regardless of how it appears. As I get older I do think more about how a lot of the decisions that have 'happened' to me fit into the larger narrative of my life, upbringing, and heritage. I think the common denominator is an insatiable curiosity.
Could you compare your experience of being an artist in New York and in Czechia? What was your impression of the local scene in comparison to the life in the USA? When did you come here for the first time? I imagine it must have been quite a shock…
The Czech Republic had just been established as an independent country, so 1993. I think more than a shock it was a radical moment of being presented with my own preconceptions of the world. The experience emphasized my role as an observer. Language acquisition became a tool for integration and adaptation, which ultimately resulted in the development of an alternative personality; a new set of social mores. I became increasingly aware of how my perceptions and interpretations are a mere subset of a larger reality and context. For this reason I find it really difficult to make comparisons between here and there. They're like alternative universes with wormholes in between.
Your focus has always been on new media art and moving image. Why did this form of artistic expression attract you? What made you choose it.
In the early 1990s I studied and assisted at the Performance-Video-Multimedia department at FaVU. This was a unique combination of fields. The Internet was just becoming establishment as a ubiquitous tool and with it came the artistic exploration of the medium on an international level. It was very much about community, sharing, and archiving. These are still aspects of art making that are most compelling to me. Media theorists and curators Chris Hill and Keiko Sei were important influences, as were Steina and Woody Vašulka. Through the optics of performance I was able to focus on process as an underlying principle in relation to my personal views and societal concerns. These go hand in hand with technology.
At the current exhibition, you are going to deal with the question of voting. Is it supposed to deal with the fact that one is forced to choose only yes or no even though the truth lies somewhere in the middle?
Voting has occupied my thoughts over the last year particularly in terms of the either/or type of vote which gets the most amount of campaign and media attention. This is also true concerning the referendum where complex issues become binary options, the outcome generally has far-reaching repercussions, often historical. This had me considering the scale of an election and how with a larger population, binary decisions fall short of the goal of representing a spectrum of voices.
I'm also interested in quirky aspects of the election process, especially voting methods. What I have in mind is the actual physical process of participation, the documents, the analogue voting machine, and its imminent digital form. What role does the physicality of participation play in our perception of an election's outcome and the ensuing implementation of policy?
The exhibition will be processual, it will transform, meaning it would function as a continuous documentation, a recording of a process, so is it a sort of performance?
I would like the work to be accumulative, reflecting the underlying processes that make up something we generally perceive as straightforward. I'm inspired by the voting protocol used in Venice for electing the Doge between 1268 and 1797. There were ten rounds of voting, a pattern of alternating election by lot and by electoral college. Through an abstraction of the voting process I hope to arouse interest in looking deeper into how voting is structured and how we find ourselves participating and performing representation.
kurátorka: Gabriela Kotiková
The program of the Jeleni Gallery is possible through kind support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Council, State Fund of Culture of the Czech Republic, City District Prague 7