Katarina Šević

New Props - Safety Joy

Venue: acb Attachment
Date: Mar 10 – Apr 28, 2017

The recent praxis of Katarina Šević hinges on series of objects that are connected to performative situations and events and often displayed in public spaces instead of galleries. The artist founds her creative methods on a broad spectrum of subjects and diverse work strategies. The topics she addresses are associated with the points of connection between art, design and society, while querying normative historical narratives. Her work is often formulated and presented through groups of objects and associated performative situations and events, usually coupled with text or narration. Examples of these include the research project Gasium et Circenses (2013) realized in collaboration with the artist duo Tehnica Schweiz, which focused on the forgotten past of an abandoned open air stage at the Óbuda Gas Works Culture House, and the project entitled Alfred Palestra (2014), presented at acb Gallery in 2015 in the scope of the OFF-Biennale, which explored the different historical layers of a school in Rennes through a group of objects and their use in a collective performance.

The corpus of the exhibition New Props / Safety Joy comprises preliminary studies for costumes, props and situations. These visual ideas are related to a new collaborative series of performances in public space, which will use the public spaces of Budapest as its stage this autumn, using devices of game, grotesque and humour. As an alternative to protests, this program will progress through the streets of Budapest in the course of weeks, perhaps months. The aim of the program is to create a framework in which participants can draw courage and joy from practicing the freedom of speech and assembly. The troupe will guard the safety of free voice and thought: participants will be allowed to scream, extrovert, introvert, dance and go crazy in public.

The two leather costumes on display at acb Attachment playfully combine the concepts of safety, protection and theatricality. Taking safety vests as her point of departure, the artist fashioned one of the leather costumes as an egg-shaped tortoise-shell, which, if filled up, gives a sense of protection to its wearer, but at the same time, the natural skin-colour of the object also endows the wearer with a sense of nudity and vulnerability. Along similar principles, the second costume alludes to the classic sleeveless visibility vest seen almost everywhere in the streets of Budapest: the yellow vest worn by construction workers, street sweepers, ticket controllers and security guards is at once the symbol of authority. It is unavoidably associated with abuse of power, identification with authority and losing control of oneself in such power games and situations involving power demonstration. Evoking countless associations and endowing them with new layers, these costumes also push the boundaries between visibility and hiding. This, however, is offset by the attachable leather undergarment accessory, which is a particularly comical sight.

The two costumes are accompanied by 25 collages reflecting the spirit and visual tradition of surrealism. The occasionally absurd photographic and graphical compositions represent various phases of the artist’s cognitive process and can be interpreted as leather/costume/set design sketches for the public art event planned for this autumn.

Don’t try to save your hide – don’t play safe, don’t hide!


Special thanks: Zsófia Bán, Gergely László, Kati Erdődi, Hajnalka Somogyi


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