Critics’ Picks

Ivana Bašić, Stay inside or perish, 2016. Installation view. Photo: Katarína Hudačinová.

Ivana Bašić, Stay inside or perish, 2016. Installation view. Photo: Katarína Hudačinová.


“Post-Digital Intimacy”

National Gallery Prague
Staroměstské náměstí 606/12
November 11, 2021–July 10, 2022

The exhibition “Post-Digital Intimacies” brings together a selection of artists who examine the relationship between intimacy and technology. All of the works in the exhibition were produced in the past half-decade and react—sometimes directly but more often indirectly—to the place of the self in a depersonalized landscape. Sculpture figures prominently here, foregrounding the materiality of the body and the fragmentation of its constituent parts as a means of reconstructing intimacy. Through her biomorphic objects, Ivana Bašić approximates bodies unable to function without metal prostheses. In the remarkably prescient Stay inside or perish, 2016, a humanoid frame bends backward, its weight supported on one end by metal stilts and on the other by an elastic band. While the physical form lies in front of us, its existence feels tenuous. Yet the bodily fragment’s fragility does not engender intimacy; its arched back and sinewy legs construct a representation of pain that leads the viewer to recoil, demarcating a boundary between us and the object. In a similar vein, Virtual Care, 2021, an installation by artistic duo Pakui Hardware, imagines a futuristic hospital ward that functions autonomously, without people. Drawing on the ongoing debate around the decreasing human presence in medicine, Pakui Hardware questions the purpose of care without a carer. Meanwhile, Rachel Maclean’s video and photographic works dip into a hypersaturated consumerist dystopia that is at once fantastical and grotesque, and Louisa Gagliardi’s gel-coated digital prints of domestic scenes offer a highly stylized perspective on the commodification of the self.

Overall, a profound sense of uncanniness settles over the exhibition. The works present a world in which intimacy is mediated through technology, unfolding in a landscape that is uncomfortably familiar yet just distant enough to view with some degree of objectivity.