Critics’ Picks

View of “Eva Kotátková,” 2010.

View of “Eva Kotátková,” 2010.


Eva Kotátková

hunt kastner
Borivojova 85
January 13–March 7, 2010

In Eva Kotátková’s exhibition “Controlled Memory Loss,” the Prague-based artist uses maquettes, photographs, drawings, videos, and staged performances to plan and document domestic experiments in which individuals attempt their own reeducation through dysfunctional do-it-yourself craft projects and Situationist dérive. Black-latticed vertical panels and stacked parallelepiped modules transform the gallery into a familiar psychogeography, recalling the prefab high rises, or paneláky, in the Czech Republic, which huddle in the suburbs around the rocky hillside of Hradčany, Prague’s district of noble and historic buildings.

In Kotátková’s wooden models and pen sketches, human figures are rendered as paper dolls and button-eyed scarecrows, effigies that viewers are encouraged to imagine maneuvering around the installation like a Choose Your Own Adventure epic or a large three-dimensional board game. Yet in this deconstruction of the domus and its social function, the show seems to slip into a parody of liberalism and its participatory strategies. Index cards that invite viewers to respond to the situations illustrated in the cluster of sculptures become a kind of farcical apology that caricatures calls for transparency and accountability, imitating the pseudodemocratic methods of contemporary advertising. Despite evoking the strategies and tactics of Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life (1980) and Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon (1959–1974), any commitment to probing behavioral conditioning here falls short, simply reducing itself to a comic spoof of the inevitable reversion to deep-seated axioms.