Structured as a philosophical investigation between recent works and new productions realized specifically for the exhibit spaces of ar/ge kunst, Dictation is the first individual show of the Czech artist Eva Koťátková (1982, Prague) in an Italian institution.
Within a dialectical thesis between experience and formation, between habit and punishment, Koťátková constructs performative models of social analysis in order to investigate the forms of common sense and to show the ideological construction of behaviours and individual habits. 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, the practice of the artist is a process of permanent re-assembly, dictated by the desire to involve the observer in the space of a completely new, social environment, one hybrid in nature and undefined.
One of the favorite territories of Eva Koťátková is the field of childhood and its educational space, the school, with its paradigms of integration and social control, against which the artist conducts her research regarding its sedimented rituals and behavioural models. In Sit straight with your arms behind your back (2008), simple wooden structures underline the bodily posture of pupils during the school hours, emphasizing the strategies of social control transmitted by the institution of school. The educational environment is once again at the center of the work Dictate (2009), an audio installation in which the voice of a teacher dictates in imperative cadences a series of commands and punitive instructions, recalling the atmosphere of control that has been standardized and transmitted from teachers to students.
The work is structured according to a performative dimension, in which visitors can take place at a table and “sustain” the impositions of the punitive dictates. Dictate is characterized as an open and shared registry, a paper archive destined to increase during the duration of the exhibit by collecting written assignments submitted by the visitors, who will be invited to re-experience the buried practice of their own memories of childhood and school. Other works, such as Drawing Archives (2005-2009) present a sort of archive of the thought processes and obsessions of the artist, between memory, fear and experimental social analysis.
Through the obsessive registration of events, memories and commonly accepted social mechanisms, Eva Koťátková dismantles piece by piece the certainties of individual and collective identity. She exercises a continual questioning of socialized norms and models, undertaking in the final analysis an interrogation on the very nature of freedom and the idea of free choice.