The territory between freedom and coercion, autonomous expression and its restriction, has always been at the heart of Eva Kotatkova’s work. In her practice she constructs performative models of social analysis in order to investigate the forms of common sense and show the ideological construction of collective and individual behavior. Within this strategy, a relevant part is played by the body of the artist herself, as she tests habitual and well-defined gestures, re-organizing them according to completely new coordinates. Thus, her practice is a process of constant re-assembly, dictated by the desire to involve the observer in the space of a new social environment, hybrid in nature and yet to be written. Through an unrelenting analysis of events, memories and commonly accepted social mechanisms, Kotatkova interrogates socialized norms and models, a process that in the final analysis questions the very nature of freedom and the idea of free choice.

One of the favorite territories of Kotatkova’s practice is childhood and its educational space, the school, with its paradigms of integration and social control, against which the artist conducts her research on the institution’s sedimented rituals and behavioral models.

Her first solo show in Finland offers an incisive insight into the artist’s practice. It centers around Room for Restoring Empathy, an installation formed through numerous meetings and workshops with children, who became temporary collaborators of Kotatkova. They were asked to bring their jumpers, jackets and other pieces of personal clothing, which were then transformed into the children’s second skin to articulate their opinions, dreams and desires. The jackets acquired mouths able to speak or shout, and eyes capable of seeing through walls or behind corners. During the workshops stories were shared and collected: stories of stigmatization and oppression, as well as stories about empathy and solidarity. When presented to the viewers, the elements of Room for Restoring Empathy act as a group of bodies that have convened to discuss, share or dream together, thus creating a social space respectful of all the participants’ individualities.

The exhibition also features drawings from the series Me and others, me from parts, which rearticulates a visual scenario linked to the world of children. The series presents individual identity as a metamorphic action in the making, a place where each person interacts with the world and others, coping with fears, hopes and desires.

Event information

21.01.2022 - 29.05.2022
Pori Art Museum