In his seminal work Observations (1995/2011) Ondák cut from a book- perhaps a monograph on perception – a series of details comprising images and captions.
The origins of this series of image/text combinations are left intentionally unclear.
Though the photographs are worthwhile to look at, “Observations” by Roman Ondák only turns complete through the pointed, intelligent and witty subtitles. They light-handedly analyze that what is shown, thus turning “Observations” into a sociological excurse, and an amusing deconstruction of what is to be seen.
I strongly suspect that the subtitles are written by Roman Ondák, they are too brilliant to have stayed undiscovered over all the years. He might even have collected the photographs.
That nobody is questioning the authorship of this series is a circumstance that sort of puzzles me. To cut and paste a series of this quality, then to exhibit it prominently and even publish a book containing the material would be a disgusting rip off if the original author is not Roman Ondák.
Most of you will have a at least vague notion about the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops. Anyway, one of the stories told was that the Czech citizens removed or painted over the road signs in towns—except for those indicating the way to Moscow.
Roman Ondák plays a charming and irritating game.
“In his seminal work Observations (1995/2011) Ondák cut from a book- perhaps a monograph on perception – a series of details comprising images and captions. Presented on the gallery walls singly or combined in diptychs and triptychs, these cuttings form a universal vocabulary of individual and collective relationships and exchanges, of physical movements, mental projections, momentary intuitions, or suspended states of mind on which the artist’s research is grounded. Hung at various levels, the images and their laconic texts capture subtle, nuanced psychological situations and ordinary attitudes through a balanced combination of similar and contrasting gestures, postures, and gazes. The exhibition space is “edited” by this intervention, and its indoor articulation reverberates with a constantly evoked outdoors, as well as in the recurrent “elsewhere” revealed in the cuttings themselves. In these works, where micro and macro mirror each other, Ondák does not provide an alternative to reality; rather, he gives the audience a key with which to access and identify the variety of different observations and interpretations that reality offers. On the occasion of dOCUMENTA(13), “Observations” is on view in its entirety for the first time, as an invitation, both giant and humble, to look.”