“Folie à deux, shared psychosis or shared delusional disorder is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and sometimes hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another.”
Living in the days of flat earthers, climate change deniers, opponents of vaccination or InfoWars provides ideally fertile ground for collectively shared delusions. Their more intimate version connecting in a specific belief only the smallest of groups, two people, a family, or close colleagues is much more unique, strangely precious and actually beautiful. It can only span out of a context of a close relationship with an individual already having an established idea located somewhere outside of rational and conventional ways of perception.
SPZ Gallery (stands for Státní poznávací značka, meaning in Czech a vehicle registration plate) is a garage, neatly refurbished, bright and clean, run by two artists, Lukáš and Robert, who are also professors at the art academy in Prague. They like things to be bright and clean. They also like banality and irony stuck in layers under the surface of their precisely crafted works and installations. What is all their stuff actually about – who knows. Because neither of them is ever giving their audience clear conceptual reasoning behind presented works. They prefer to talk about snow groomers, trips to the Alps, little things you step on during your way from A to B, and among many other currently followed topics, for instance, a strange lack of taste on Czech countryside. So it seems that one is left with an open invitation to place your own interpretation upon what you see. A series of paintings in primary colors, large scale images of 3D scanned architectural elements from an old baroque palazzo in the heart of Prague, motionless, yet somehow dynamic carpet and one blue wall. Almost as installation of one artist, yet actually a selection of recent works of two individuals closely connected in their lives and practices even though their actual separate works are hardly ever cut from the same cloth. What they share is obsessive attention to detail manifested in complex spacial setups into which they are composing unique elements with a precision of an old watchmaker. Don’t get me wrong, their conjunction is not a pathological psychosis, yet a highly intertwined worldview. One based upon other things also on sharing expertise and education, clearly recognizable both in their open way of teaching at the academy and curating at SPZ. And that’s probably the reason why they decided to transform a simple context of an art fair booth into an installation, same as why this exhibition steps out of the given couple of square meters to another venue, Viennese alternative fair Parallel where they are showing works of one colleague and one student of theirs. Eliška, an emerging artist already proven by successful exhibition practice, presents there a series of textile reliefs depicting highly abstracted self-portraits alongside her partner and her dog, sharing a mutual delusion in otherwise mundane home settings. And since education is never a one-directional process, it seems more than fitting that her topic and title of her series of works “Folie à deux” actually very well go back to her teachers as only slightly exaggerated characterization of their practice. The foursome is completed by Matěj and his kinetic object playfully deconstructing passing time while reading complex thoughts of a significant 20th-century Czech philosopher Jan Patočka or any other writer or situation for that matter. Two timepieces and four hands are connected to form a familiar shape in constant movement, actually showing time, yet at the same time confusing the viewer enough to believe that each of us can perceive the passage of time differently. Well, maybe it also takes a little folie à deux to see the same thing at the same time and at the same time.
Two duos of artists, two art fairs, two spaces, one exhibition. What starts in one venue, the other is following, giving it a punch line and vice versa. Fields of color; movement; re-representation of the physical memory of objects; personal and private meets its surrounding environment, yet stays honest to itself; publicly shared becomes intimate; hands are moving and merging into one another; why should you stand if you can run and what are all these words even doing here?!
SPZ makes it perfectly clear that even though their years-long practice as a non-for-profit space reaches a new frontier of a commercial field, their interest in curated, elaborately choreographed and structured presentations is still paramount. Could this be a shared delusion? Is there a space for such things in the toughness of the competitive art market? Who knows, who cares? Well, maybe you since we are at the end of this text – an art fair booth text, which is a crazy thing per se, floating in some weirdly distorted reality. So welcome to the shared psychosis, you’re for a moment officially an inherent part of it, congrats!