JOZEF SEDLÁK: PHOTOGRAPHIC ESCHATOLOGY
The exhibition is thematically focused on reflection of being, and deals with the issues of the last things of a man with the message: "vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas ..." Selected cycles from the field of fine-art and conceptual photography in a narrow thematic context correspond directly with the philosophy of the author's work to date. A photographer Jozef Sedlák, the representative of conceptual and process photography, is an author who in his work does not solve only formal questions of art, technological or experimental possibilities of photography, but through the medium of photography speaks about generally valid spiritual dimensions of man with the ambition to provoke him to seek the answers to the questions about the meaning of human being, death, the meaning of pain and suffering, the fate of man and the world, and touches on the problem of the absolute and the limits of human existence.
Cycle of exhibitions PROFILES.
Exhibition of Jozef Sedlák entitled Photographic Eschatology1 is a thematic testimony about the forms of death, dying, persistence, rebirth and resisting against the transience with the infinity of the human soul. It depicts the parable of the "memento mori"2, which has appeared in artistic symbolism for centuries as a reminder of the necessity of death in various interpretations. When assembling the exhibition, we had no notion about the upcoming attack of the modern plague – Covid, and so its introduction in the worst time of escalation of global infection acquires timeless value in the message "vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas ..."3 We tried to create a space for a unique dialogue exploring the volatile nature of life, which, in the case of instability of consciousness, increases the value of the present from several angles: as a celebration or adoration of death, a sign of futility, or a depiction of changes and various forms of transformation.
Jozef Sedlák's extensive work ranges from several genres: from a subjective documentary through staged photography and experiment to conceptual works and installations. The exhibition project focuses on the staged and conceptual way of creation, which we present in nine selected series in a time diapason of four decades connected with thematic narration and distinctive symbolism. Photographic objects in the cycles Latency (2011) and Under the Face (1977 ‒2015) symbolize the fleetingness of time, the intertwining of memories, the confrontation of identity, or the "metaphysics of photography", crossing the boundaries of the medium. The sequence of Five Seconds of Clinical Death (1979) is a pause in the meantime on the fragile frontier of life and infinity; at the exhibition, it communicates directly with the adoration of the dead in the installation Saints (1977 ‒2016) ‒ memorable stories about loved ones in a time-lapse photographic records for almost three decades. The emphasis of the presented topic becomes a photograph from the cycle Intuition of Multiples (1994) with an indirect reference to the classic "memento mori". Diptych series On the Democracy of Light II. (1989/2011) combines classic analogue photographs with digitally transformed conceptual sketches. They are a symbolism of shapes, light and hands, creating a challenging dialogue of subtle chemical black-and-white photographs with digitally generated colour canvases, pointing to the unlimited possibilities of post-production in the age of new technologies. Modifications from the rich author's archive are also installations of monumental works from the series Tribute to the Installation (1995/2018) and On the Democracy of Light I. (1989/2018), which follow on from luminographic works from the 1990s: multiplication of motifs creates expressive modern "ossuaries" and the author's light alphabet – "grammar of intrinsic light ". The uncompromising and strong message of the presented works closes the novelty – the conceptual mosaic Firenze (2013), that forms the reconstruction of renaissance tombstones by projecting contemporary portraits of the author's family members with reference to "visual resurrection".
The exhibition deliberately connects and permeates four decades of Jozef Sedlák's creative work in the subject on the latest reflections on being, in various media formats, reporting on the uncompromising development of the medium and the opening of endless technological possibilities for material processing of the classic quote "Memento mori...". The supertemporality of the ideological, the depth of philosophical and the uniqueness of the aesthetic message point to the importance of the author's work in the context of the current history of Central European photography and fine art.
Mgr. Lucia Benická, curator of the exhibition
1 Eschatology is the study of the last things of man (including the afterlife) and humanity.
2 Latin proverb: "Remember, you will die."
3 "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
Curator: Mgr. Lucia Benická – GUS
Special cooperation: Jozef Sedlák
Production: Mgr. Lenka Králová – GUS
Graphic design: Mgr. art. Ivana Babejová, ArtD. – GUS