Feriancová, Petra : The Nature is a Priority. On Peter Bartoš exhibition, Homeland at amt_project. 2015

The Nature is a Priority. Petra Feriancová on Peter Bartoš exhibition, Homeland at amt_project.

Amt_ project has the exhibition of Peter Bartoš and guests, Peter Andráši, Petra Feriancová, Květoslava Fulierová, Július Koller, Ludmila Rampáková, currently on display. It is a fairly unique project, if only because Peter Bartoš usually vehemently opposes exhibition of his work. He himself states that he accepted the offer, because the space is a non-institutional one, thus an independent environment. The gallery is situated in a flat, which is still used as a residence from time to time; as Peter himself says, even Tomáško Štrauss (Tomáš Štrauss) would welcome this environment.

The exhibition came together gradually and very slowly. Peter began in the kitchen by exhibiting his concept of the environment dating back to 1969. We met one spring morning and we went for a walk to the presidential garden. Peter took out a picture from his briefcase and said, that he had just come from the Slovak National Gallery, where he had an appointment to meet with a theoretician, who did not turn up in the end. He made an action out of his waiting for her. And so he left with his concept and hung it in our kitchen. It hung there on its own for a few days and then a second project, related to the first, was added. Then he began installing the study of the extramural settlement of Bratislava, a very important concept for him. This took place in the corridor, where we had panels brought in so that the radiators were not in the way. Every day he would come in and slowly and carefully construct an image of the extramural settlement, made up of various photocopies of various sizes, which are more or less related to one another in an interesting dynamic, which is comprised of various perspectives. Later he left this work behind, and filled the surrounding wall with other references. These were newspaper articles, collages, or collages combined with painting. Bartoš adds that it would be appropriate to leave the rest of the space for others to fill.

One day he came with an idea of a home as the main theme of the exhibition, which he began to realize in the first room of the exhibition. He drew landscapes masterfully onto wrapping paper and onto pieces of textile, with the precision of maps, in a slight perspective and with the plasticity of a mountain range. It is here that he returns to his spiral, and to the place, where he was born. He placed an image of a study accompanying a plan for the zoological garden, where he adds a black and white photocopy, which refers to the image. (Bartoš’ Xeroxed copies are actually the concepts and he himself considers them to be the most important.) These, in this case move the spatial limits of the image. Bartoš expands his work by drawing, and he attaches pieces of textile or paper in an improvised manner to the work, which has already been installed, so that he would have the possibility to draw outside the limits of the format. This foundation, but also older paintings have their designated space on the wall. They can be understood as individual elements and the wall is the final image. Even so, a little dubious, because the image in Bartoš’ understanding acts volcanically, in a procession and expansion. It has no limits or an end. Midway through the room Peter stops in a slightly irrational manner and asks for other artists, his guest, to finish his installation.

He asks me to amend the extramural settlement, however I only manage to find a few documents from when I was walking my dog, documentation pertaining to older houses with gardens and some small villas, which no longer exist. He wants Koller’s work, because as he says, Koller has a question mark, and he has an exclamation mark.***

Naturally also because of Koller’s post production of the everyday, for which I suggest to ask Kveta Fulierová to collaborate. And so a fairly discursive installation of images from various sources (my archive, the archive of Kveta Fulierová and other works of Peter) takes shape. Peter advises on where everything should be positioned. “Here you begin with the birds, the grandfather, then you continue with the pigeons, then you move onto the church, here you put the children, swimming, cooking, the pioneers’ garden.... What, do you not bathe your children!?” In principle I managed to listen to Peter’s advice for the idea of the concept for the room, which was designated for me and I brought material, which I was able to find, or rather which I though of as relevant. I use some of his Xerox photocopies as a resource, around which I try to exhibit something, as if a network of image associations, which freely diverge from given arguments. Peter reacts to these installations again with one of his drawings, or and older concept. As a result, the images become, as if, words, and their organization as if a syntax, an installation. An attempt at a dialogue.

Bartoš continues to amend the exhibition, even after the opening, which is slightly reminiscent of Stano Filko, who returned every day to work on his exhibition in amt in 2012. Nor he, nor Bartoš came to the opening of their exhibitions. The difference in this never ending summarization, in the case of both artists, is probably that, Peter fills in and Filko changes concepts , very often with by a palimpsest, or destruction of that, which already exists. For Bartoš the exhibition space is as if a lecture hall and the concepts are didactic aids. He often tells me he is only exhibiting his work so that the exhibition, in this case his extramural settlement, will spark up a discussion and therefore has a meaning, a will move things forward. Both Stano and Peter like to give instructions to someone, who will finish their work for them. On the day of the opening Martin came with a list of Peter’s instructions, pertaining to the panel with the extramural settlement. “Draw an exclamation point circa 20 cm high 5 cm to the right of Žigmund’s gate”.

My personal interest is mostly focused on Bartoš’s work connected to cultivating the countryside. Cultivating as a free manipulation of the living matter, connected to the preservation or observation, which in Bartoš’ case have a more ethical, even religious dimension, for us it can possibly be a reaction to a terrible saturation of the human kind with itself. His study of biotopes is very interesting, as well as the arrangement of original species’ habitats with regard to the viewer, his contact with animals, but also the esthetics of the environment. **** Peter likes to reminisce about how he for example created the “alla prima” pond in the area for camels in the zoo.***** Breeding is another important area, generally a little less talked about, possibly because of its difficulty. Excluding the interest and the understanding of those who do not concern themselves with this topic. Nonetheless, breeding can be understood as an essence of the need to create, to take care and to wait. His studies of parks, through which one cannot simply stroll through, but ones where one can get lost on pathways that lead no where, are remarkable. I find both of these bearings, whether it is the breeding one or the work with the landscape, with the intention of a landscape architect of the 18th century, very interesting and unique. Peter reminds me of this on the phone, he reiterates more than once that Nature is a priority.




(22nd November 2015, this text was corrected by Peter Bartoš over the phone, here are his notes)

*Here only Environments, because they began to deal with “the environments of the park” only later. In this case it was an unkempt terrain near Dúbravka.
**The Spiral or Nomad Art is Bartoš’ long-term project. It came about, as he himself says, because he did not have a citizenship, so he pin-pointed a point in the town of Uhrovec, because that is where two important Lutherans were born (Štúr a Dubcek). It is the center of a circle, and a few hours before the separation of Czechoslovakia, Bartoš began his pilgrimage in Breclav. The circle reached the Hungarian border, which it surpassed and because of his political ideals, he turned and returned; and so the circle became a spiral.

***The exclamation point is an important project for Bartoš, as he himself adds, a breaking point, “it should be in the Slovak National Gallery, I should ask for it back.” ****Peter Bartoš’ studied architecture.
*****Then the director of the zoo had it filled in by soil. He was afraid because there was no permit for its construction. However, Peter Bartoš’ emphasizes that there are two more ponds, which still exist. The concept of a pond for flamingos, and a little further a pond (a natural one), for which he made a study of its functioning, and from which there is a stream flowing out. 

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