La Biennale di Venezia – Artists: Eva Kotatkova – Exhibition and Artist review – draft

Artist Name: Eva Kotátková

Date of birth: (b.Prague) 1982.
What: Asylum, 19 Nov 2013  – The Encyclopedic Palace
Where: 55th Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia)

Installation view:

The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th Venice Biennale

Biennale Arte 2013 – Eva Kotatkova youtube


eva kotatkova venice biennale

Exhibition review

While I was viewing this installation, my award leader Carol had noticed me pouring all over every element of this installation.“you like this Ian” she said. She wasn’t wrong!

The work of Eva Kotátková examines institutions and disciplinary systems, from primary schools to Prisons, considering the ways in which they can determine behaviour. Using what she describes as an archaeological approach (which is reminiscent of a Polish artist’s creation that I saw at Artes Mundi 2012, in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.) Kotátková dissects the mechanisms underlying the everyday, often using her memories and personal history as a point of departure. In her work the invisible cages, hurdles and barriers that regulate and restrict mental life are often rendered as literal modes of confinement using performance, sculpture, installation and collage to viscerally articulate the physical effects of social pressures. This connects with various articles I’ve read by the writer, anthropologist and anarchist, Prof. David Greaber on the subject of “Structural Violence”.

In her installation Re-education Machine (2011), the classroom is re-imagined  as a torture chamber, with fragments of a printing press used in 1960s Czechoslovakia transformed into a prison; this work points to the way in which systems, intended to enlighten and educate, can be abused and misused and made into a vehicle for propaganda and indoctrination. For this project Asylum (2013)  Kotátková turned her attention to mental institutions in Austria and Prague, to explore the parallel worlds invented by psychiatric patients who expressed their inner Universes through art.

She collaborated with patients resulting in installations based on social hierarchies and communication envisioned by the patients. Composed of collages suspended in glass propped against shelves or held in bizarre containers, the installation suggests an alternative body or a vision of a fragmented  body reflecting the perspective of those who live outside of our normative societal setting.




Guidelines for artist and exhibition appreciation and critique. This list is a personal guide only and should be assessed as such.

Appreciation of painting to include following eight points:

  • Title/ date/ media/ collection or museum if known
  • The subject of the painting e.g. whether it is a landscape/ portrait/ still life/ urban/ abstract etc
  • The compositional elements of the painting e.g. what is included in the painting in the foreground/ background/ middle distance.
  • The painting technique or style e.g. you may want to use adjectives to describe the painting technique such as: loose brushwork/ spontaneous/ direct/ lively/ vibrant/ sketchy/ impasto/ energetic/ thinly painted/ thickly painted/ layers of colour/ washes of colour/ controlled or detailed brushwork/ highly finished/ photographic quality/ impressionistic/ expressionistic/ cubist/ surrealistic etc.
  • Use of colour e.g. bright primary/ dark monochrome/ subdued/ intense/ subtle/ use of chiaroscuro/ pastel/ contrasting/ harsh/ pale/ etc
  • Overall feeling or mood of the painting e.g. : happy/ quiet/ tranquil/ peaceful/ romantic/ sad/ tragic/ emotional/ disturbing/ real/ humorous/ moody/ inspiring/ offensive/ etc.
  • Content, meaning or message of the painting – what I think the artist has set out to convey e.g. a painting of everyday life/ a love of colour and landscape/ a comment on time and place/ a political statement/ a humorous statement/ a personal emotional response/ a story or narrative/ a symbolic representation/ an abstraction from the subject etc.
  • My own opinion and critical analysis whether I like the painting or not and why.