Pink potatoes

Galerie Kontext 15 05 — 15 06
Opening — 14 5 2024

The exhibition Pink Potatoes by Juri Charvát is based on the artistic-social project of the same name, which the author has been focusing on for a long time. The central theme is queer identity and its associated pitfalls. The plot of the videos is set in a rural setting, where the author performatively intervenes in the environment of local entertainment. Entering the crowd as a drag queen, they deconstruct the local folklore and thus try to experience their own queer gender euphoria and freedom in this heteronormative environment, which is not always met with understanding and tolerance of the immediate community.

The attribute of the exhibition and the project in general is the potato flower, which for Juri is an imaginary representative of queer people living in the countryside, an environment in which it is usually difficult to live freely, openly, without fear of stigmatization, condemnation, ridicule or slander. The potato is also something archetypal in a rural environment, which contrasts with the fact that, at the time of its spread from the Americas,  

the crop was treated with considerable suspicion and was seen by parts of the European population as an ornamental exotic plant.

It was Marek Torčík who raised the topic of queer identity in the closed heteronormative Czech environment. Last year, he published a book entitled Rozložíš paměť introducing this topic into the local context, which has been resonating in world literature for a longer time, for example in the work of the popular Édouard Louis.

The main theme of the first Pink Chips video is the complexity of identity. Juri imaginatively grates a pink potato into thin slices, slowly revealing the more specific parts of their own identity. The video collage is composed of footage of real events interspersed with fictional scenes and characters at a village party. The next video is composed of three shorter parts, each of which is dedicated to one of the magical creatures of folk mythology: Pštyra, Vodník and Měsíčnice, 

characters we know from folklore, endowed with a multitude of traits and meanings. Each of these mythical characters is probably based on real people who, at the time of the origin of the village tales, lived similar lives to their compatriots, only they were ostracized as different by their communities. These "monsters" grew out of the fear of the unknown, the demonization of otherness and its stigmatization. Juri's work dismantles these mythologies and highlights the fact that the main stamp of otherness on these characters is their gender fluidity.

The Pink Potatoes exhibition deals with themes that are universal and generally applicable to most of us. Euphoria, complexity or identity change can be experienced by anyone, whether in relation to oneself or within family and other relationships. Likewise, potatoes, Pštyra, Měsíčnice, and Vodník have already integrated into society, have been demythologized, and hopefully one day the same will happen with the queer.