The eighth exhibition of Studio Hrdinů under the name Empire responds loosely to a production of The Animal Kingdom directed by Kamila Polívková according to the eponymous play by Roland Schimmelpfennig.
Empire, as a grouping of interdependent units, a whole with which we can freely designate each of us, offers us the possibility of constant work. By becoming aware of the relationship between the individual entities and by improving them we contribute to the value of the whole. Thanks to the way it pursues its ‘policy’ Empire can become infinitely powerful. What is needed is high motivation and cooperation. Animal Empire is about acting routine, personal responsibility for one’s direction and above all, interweaving of the personality of the actor and the fictional character. If we do not watch out, boundaries blur and we can lose control over both. The mask that is created is not so easy to take off.
The first building block for our exhibition is a series of masks created by Ondřej Cibulka, who has been working with origami for a long time. In the production we see them all life-sized. For the exhibition we chose a single paper format, which allowed the creation of masks of different sizes (lion, antelope, zebra, common genet, marabou). We regard this principle as a metaphor for the actors’ work on a particular character. The actors can present a certain value thanks to their artistry and limitations. The more complex the act, the less chance of success.
The approach of Václav Litvan, who reacted directly to this production, is valuable for his strong, sensitively directed conceptual thinking. There is a feeling of the joy of work, sculptural work, work with material. Litvan shows three objects. The proportions are the same, only the scale and the points of view change. One of the ways of reading the objects on display is remembering what is the model, relief and structure. The motif from the photograph on the model shows the ‘victim/s.’ Who is the prey here is the question. The image is then converted into relief whose plasticity it revives. It tells us that we can meet with something tangible. The arch represents the inability to see the motif in its integrity when it is structured on a large scale. It offers us the experience of a performance. We can walk through it and exercise our imagination.