Nóra Ružičková firmly established herself in the Slovakian scene long ago, winning recognition and fame first with her collections of poems, later with her visual art, and also by means of her un-loud yet strongly “different” teaching at VŠVU (Academy of Fine Arts and Design) in Bratislava, Slovakia. As an author Nóra entered the Czech environment with her poetry, so she is not at all an unknown phenomenon in this direction, quite on the contrary. In the beginning of the Zero Years she arose attention as an artist by screening her textual images, vibrant clusters of texts posing high demands to our perception. Thus she opened questions related to the new media theory and especially the position of the viewer. What is important in her artwork is its close connection with language, linguistic procedures and working with the metaphor, metonym and other figures of speech. She successfully creates not just content-rich textual games, but also autonomous visual forms functioning with a sort of magic typical of a motion picture. Metaphors, as Mladen Dolar puts it, are never innocent, always doing something more than originally intended by their creator. It is in the nature of a simile to escape control, and that is the quality the artist mastered to her advantage (Chorobopisy/Medical Histories, 2012, and in collaboration with Marianna Mlynárčiková Prevodné tabuľky/Conversion Tables, 2012 – 2013).
Both Nóra’s written and published works, as well as her visual artworks are idiosyncratic utterances and also direct interventions in arts & culture events and activities (Vanitas, Pisztory Palace, Bratislava, 2014). They are solitaires, unclassifiable, and positioning themselves in disturbing otherness. We could relate and attach her work to several contemporary art streams (participative, art as a political matter in public space, institutional criticism, bending patterns in some respects similar to queering, working with non/personal mythologies). Eventually though we always discover that her work sneaks out of all our efforts to achieve “peace and clarity” within a moving field, and makes us continue thinking. This uneasiness of classification may be the outcome of the artist’s two (or maybe even more) homes, or caused also by the fact that her work is marked by both intellectual dand sensual originality of equal strength. It allows immediate (or too easy) interpretations – as any other artwork after all, but it always leaves space for a deeper probe, a space to install the component of thinking, thus getting close to those authors who refer to their work as “knowledge art” (Simon Wachsmuth). Nóra is essentially not a solo artist, quite on the contrary, she frequently enjoys creating various coalitions and together with people of compatible wavelength embarks on spreading and long-built art projects, a sort of field research ending with an exhibition or event (Volanie divočiny/Call of the Wild with Maja Štefančíková, 2015).
The works shown at the exhibition were implemented in collaboration with Marianna Mlynárčiková, whose profile adds to Nóra’s radius of action and at the same time, quite irreplaceably, makes this kunstler-duo complete. Marianna Mlynárčiková is another example of a non-solitaire and of productive heterogeneity in the sense of two cultural codes mixing. Her wide stance between a Slovak petty town and Thailand fisherman’s village give her impulses for her creation whose dominant method is field observations with humorous or ironic comment. Her interests also focus on the questions of artist subjectivism, authorship in the middle-space where the joint creation becomes a shared motion not dissimilar to intertextuality. In her artwork she also processes her experience with marginalized communities that tend to be viewed through stereotypes. After finishing her university studies she co-operated with Romani women on projects targeting gender equality and human rights for women, reproductive rights and domestic violence. Her work was also influenced by her experience with the post-colonial concept of the Orient, life and situations experienced in the environment and among the people of Thailand (Implementation of Slovak Folk Pattern in Classical Thai Art, 2011 – 2012). Of similar sort is her experience as a lecturer at the community Theatre from the Passage (in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia) whose actors are people with mental disorders.
The teamwork and strong outputs of this artist duo is not the result of an encounter of binary opposites, rather it is a luckily found and artfully orchestrated coincidence of two “othernesses” connected by the need of artistic sharing, focused on the investigation of hidden mechanisms especially in the world of art, and an un-kind criticism of their naturalization. The ambivalence both artists work with could well appear to be harmonizing, even psychotherapeutic, behind the scenes. Thus contemporary cultural practices are being discussed, including discourse on the fine arts and art production itself, when mutually exposing (with a healing effect, or maybe not) the phenomena that are normally not compatible, various professional instructions, recipes guaranteeing correctness, meaningfulness and in last consequence a successful way “forward” through the complexity of the current course of events. Impulses for some works of Mlynarčíková in collaboration with Ružičková can be also found, in certain respect, in the image of Bouvard and Pécuchet (G. Flaubert), which rises after almost 150 years as an ironic-sarcastic model, proving to be surprisingly well-functioning and inspirational also for the present day.
Anča Daučíková, November 2017