Michaela Spružinová's exhibition curated by Vendula Fremlová at Pragovka GAallery Pop-Up in Prague.

Michaela Spružinová: POHLEDNICE Z POUŠTĚ
Curated by Vendula Fremlová
9 February. – 2 May. 2024
Pragovka Gallery / Pop-Up, Prague

Michaela Spružinová is an intermedia artist despite or because of the fact that she uses the medium of glass most often. Michaela studied Glass at the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. She is a teacher-assistant professor at the Glass Design Studio of Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín. Her influences include but are not limited to the art scene in Ústí nad Labem. She forms her works as a critical commentary on the contemporary mass culture which both fascinates and provokes her. However, her topics do not touch upon just the mass culture and the aesthetics of kitsch and nonsense, often constructed using both landscape and figural motifs. She also works with more serious topics, such as the perception of the (own) body and its (re)presentation in contemporary visual culture. In the context of her works, we could also talk about the hybrid body, a body in constant change and transformation. Michaela employs a difficult technique of drawn glass needles which she uses to create particular nets or specific fabrics. She "braids" or "wraps" the nets around the object models made of plaster or sibral, or she just lodges the needles in an oven to use them on hanging reliefs. Her objects combine the material fragility, the work delicacy, and the roughness of her point in an engaging way.
Michaela honors the Czech glass tradition but only to the extent that it provides her with the tools to express the contents that she finds interesting or essential because the powerful traditional rootedness of the Czech glass also limits and binds her. For that reason, she prefers to cross and disturb its boundaries, to tempt them in various ways, and to dissolve them (both figuratively and literally). One of her favorite methods is working with the properties of old, recycled, or waste glass when its clarity and transparency are long gone so she needs to work with both error and chance instead of its past great color qualities. She acknowledges all aspects of recycled, secondary glass, giving it both new form and life. In contrast to the traditional glass production, which is very energy-intensive, environmentally unfriendly, and which prides itself on the luxury of material and workmanship, she offers a sustainable but, above all, visually appealing and meaningfully powerful alternative. She develops this approach further in her current praxis. She processes the remnants of glass and shards from the Egermann company in Nový Bor. The company name refers to the important technologist, innovator, and merchant Friedrich Egermann who invented copper glaze in the first half of the 19th century and exported Czech mainly ruby glass under his own name. The richness, ornate, and luxurious nature of the contemporary Egermann glassworks, which went into insolvency and subsequently disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic, was related to their production orientation toward rich foreign customers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Her intermedia installation Postcards From the Desert revives and transforms not only fragments of Egermann luxury glass, but also modernist concepts and visions. First and foremost, she updates the technique of collage. She combines random shapes of shards, whole panes of kitsch glass, and layers its fragments in different ways. She complements them with ordinary crayon drawings on a sandblasted ground or compositions made of glass threads and their particles. This creates unique glass reliefs that sometimes resemble a laborious embroidery. But the luxury glitter of this "glass collage" in the remnants of exported goods of the Czech production no longer tells a mainly modernist story of progress, of a new artistic reality emergence. It is much more a story of our globalized world with a worldwide cycle of resources and materials, human labor, and tourism; a story of the abysmal differences between different social classes. It is also a story about the exoticism that can be conveyed to the rich Saudi clientele by the European and especially Czech glass tradition while this exoticism is represented by a more or less concretized Orientalism for Europeans. This rich network of meanings and associations associated with Orientalism and exoticism also includes the phenomenon of sex tourism as erotic and sexual motifs are often present in the works of Michaela Spružinová as she has been critically reflecting on the topic of sex tourism for a long time.
If we return to the comparison with the modernist technique of collage, we can recall the works of Karel Teige or Jindřich Štyrský in this context. Their collages in the form of postcards or greetings from their travels are messages about "all the beauties of the world", about the search for and finding the lands of poetism; these are postcards from utopia. But when we discuss the works by Michaela Spružinová, we could speak of a postcard from a dystopia, from a world that no longer holds together, that is disintegrating under the consequences of human self-centered actions; these are Postcards From the Desert.

The project is implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Capital City of Prague, State Cultural Fund of the Czech Republic and the Municipality of Prague 9.