What are we blundering about? (Marika Kupková)

In her regular column on Artalk – In_margine with the subtitle Not only about review – Milena Bartlová responded to the lecture entitled Language smog in fine art by Vladimír Just, in which this theatre historian and publicist criticised the extensive use of language rhetoric and overusing foreign words in current journalistic texts on fine art. Bartlová’s response combined an agreement with the excessive use of professional jargon and formulation clichés pointing out the mitigating fact that the description of extra-linguistic disciplines, including fine art, means oscillating “on the borderline where they shoot on him (i.e. the writer) as a smuggler from both sides”. The author emphasises the need of distinguishing between the language fog and using common phrases and structures which “are traces of honest efforts to transfer the visible into words”.

The titled of Petr Dub’s exhibition, It practically linked to the thing you blunder about, is an exemplarily indefinite and empty formulation which can be included in the category of language fog. And yet … It is not a mechanical use of a common phrase or professional jargon demonstrating professional affiliation. The title originated in the situation when I took Petr Dub “for word” when we were dealing with the content of this exhibition and “brought forward” one of his statements in the position of its title. I perceived it as spontaneous and yet symptomatic juggling with the words in the attempt to express the “extra-linguistic”. Using the formulation randomly created without assuming any further use, let alone as a title to the exhibition, was also motivated by the fact that improvisation and randomness are absolutely strange to Petr Dub. A sentence taken out of the context balances on the edge between absolute emptiness and abstraction which may be developed in various contemplations. (However, the word “thing” is rhetoric in the title, being a typical expression manoeuvre of artists attempting to avoid any equivalents with undesirable characteristics, such as “artefact”).

What is a “dangerously” confusing impression made by Petr Dub’s objects is somehow pedantically thorough craft and technological bravura with a highly spectacular design. At the same time, his work is also characterised by long-term concentration on conceptual approaches which can be included in the reflection of the media nature of art. A concentration supported with the author’s above-standard interest in art theory. Back to the title: what does he / do we blunder about? From the perspective of this text and at the same time, Petr Dub’s artistic character, one may speculate about the analogy between the borderline of expression on the level of schematic structures (one should not defend the attribute “formalistic”) and at the same time, honest autonomous searching how to transfer the visible into ideas and the idea into the visible. I cannot help myself paraphrasing the text in the spirit of the remarks mentioned above: One does not exclude the other.

(Marika Kupková, 2012)