aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chain
Review by Beverley Knowles
Even before I enter the gallery, through the window from the rundown street outside, an enormous hand is visible. It rests on the floor and stops just shy of the ceiling. It is balled into a tight fist and wears a flat shade of crimson nail varnish. From this I conclude it is the fist of a woman.
The fist has a buoyancy about it. I can tell from the way it holds itself that it is an inflatable fist. That is to say it is a fist saved from flaccidity by the pumping into it of pressurised air from some external body, a machine that is neither visible nor an intrinsic part of the fist itself. The fist’s power is not its own. The truth is it has no power. Worse than that, its gentle listing and bulging, its sausage fingered countenance, reduce it to a joke; a joke that the fist itself is not in on. We laugh not with it, but at it.
Despite its gargantuan size there is no threat here. This angry woman is a portrait of defeat. Magnified defeat. Despite her body language that tries to scream: listen to me, I am angry and I will not be ignored; still she embodies all the menace of a blow up sex toy. In the same way she is little more than a tool for the will of some greater authority.
On the concrete floor beside the fist lies something that supposes to be a scattering of artfully arranged stones. Their performed randomness does not convince. They are too regular, too closely matching. For a while I stare at these stones, not sure what to make of them. Then I see that one of them is shattered. It has been thrown at the wall. A little dent remains in the paint work above. Or that is the story we are invited to believe. In fact if we look closely enough we see the truth. From one of the stones a corner is deliberately missing. It is not a stone at all. It is hollow. Made of paper, as thin and delicate as the shell of an egg, its form and colour hint at stone but it is not stone. If I threw it at the wall it would float prettily to the floor.
In this exhibition the most intriguing piece is also the one that gives the show its name. ‘aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chAin’ is a string of cheap gold necklaces joined end to end and strung across the corner of the gallery at eye level, like a sparkly washing line. The words aCtivaTe aMok, not a causaL chAin are spelled out in various typographic fonts of Argos-esque pendant. The words, it turns out, also form an anagram of the artist’s names: Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkacova. They have interwoven the letters of their names to present not two individuals but one new, ambiguous and amorphous entity.
Boundaries here are transgressed with wilfulness and humour in a Baudrillardian double strategy. Revolution is at once parodied and championed. These women hail from the post-Communist world, Romania and Slovakia respectively. Struggle is no joke. Impotence and futility no mere intellectual stance.