Viktor Takáč, I’ll Be Right Back, 2013, drywall, 10' 10“ x 16' 5” x 16' 5".

Viktor Takáč, I’ll Be Right Back, 2013, drywall, 10' 10“ x 16' 5” x 16' 5".

Viktor Takáč

Jiri Svestka | Prague

Viktor Takáč, I’ll Be Right Back, 2013, drywall, 10' 10“ x 16' 5” x 16' 5".

Although prominent on the Czech art scene from an early age, Prague-based Viktor Takáč does not fit the stereotype of a competitive and overly ambitious art-world millennial. His working methods are deliberate and introspective, allowing him to gradually explore and question the nature of the moving image and its politics of representation. The resulting videos are subtle, almost inconspicuous. His works in this medium are defined by a commitment to the camera, an almost ostentatious lack of linearity, and a complete rejection of narrative. Using slow camera movements to gradually unveil fragments of a selected space, combined with sudden bursts of speed that rapidly pass over other parts of the same space, rendering certain elements in it almost invisible, Takáč examines but also manifests a distribution of power between spectator and director, stage and auditorium. It is not a coincidence that most of the locations Takáč chooses for his videos are performative in their nature: empty theaters, cabarets, or the circus venue depicted in his latest video, Black Is Then (all works 2013).

Takáč’s most recent exhibition was called “Retrospective Studio,” and, as the title suggests, it took the form of a return to the past—but not in the sense of reevaluating past projects. Rather, the exhibition was a study, deconstruction, and restaging of isolated elements used in the making of several of his older videos, among them a heavy red curtain in front of a clean white wall (Back-Ward), words printed on the walls in black vinyl lettering determining the position of the spectator in the space (Front, Back, Left, Right), and a rotating wall creating an illusion of another space continuing behind it (I’ll Be Right Back). In these works, Takáč completely rejected the medium of the moving image, laboring strictly with real objects. Their relationship to the initial work was emphasized by their titles, which are the same as those of the original videos.

In these works, self-appropriated objects function as cinematic props, carefully constructed elements through which the artist questioned and directed the movement of the spectator around the gallery. Leaving the moving image aside yet retaining a strong sense of the cinematic via his play on illusion, feelings of uncertainty and suspense, and a dialectic between the visible and invisible, the artist elaborated on the artificiality of cinematic representation. By stepping out of the medium of video, Takáč managed to project the power struggle that he previously explored there directly onto the bodily, immediate experience of the spectator, who now became the protagonist of his staged drama.

The drama was resolved as the spectator reached the final room of the exhibition, the dark space in which Black Is Then was projected. Here, the artist safely returned to his medium, placing the props used in the exhibition back in front of the camera. The spectator also experienced a return, a reversion to a comfortably passive, uncritical position. As the viewer sat down, the old cinematic equilibrium seemed restored. But the journey that brought us to this point was not forgotten. Takáč had placed himself into his own video with his back to the camera, in the position of a silent observer who, like those of us in the auditorium, witnessed the somehow fragmentary and confusing nature of a circus set being constructed.

Markéta Stará