Andrea Éva Győri: Talking to Breasts

18. 12. 2020 - 21. 3. 2021

Karlin Studios, Prvního pluku 2, Praha
Kurátorka: Caroline Krzyszton

Firstly due to the pandemic logistics in which art institutions are now working with, it was decided with Andrea Éva Győri we would present two series of drawings and, in the largest proportion of the 200 m2 space, her five video works, for the first time presented all together. After viewing all the short films I would not characterize this choice as a practical one anymore, but definitely as a very strong conceptual one, as all videos, presenting five narrations of one story in fact, complemented with the presence of the drawings in two built-up houses inside the gallery, would definitely empower the viewer's understanding of 

Andrea Eva Győri's work as a whole.

All videos are spread in the gallery space and projected in synchrony, each of their soundtrack being whispered through small bluetooth speakers, and at the same time, thanks to the gallery's echo, all five sounds are hearable at the same time as the continuous background of the visit. This background is the interconnection of five singular stories, five lines of narrations losing their chronology to combine indifferently the present, past and future of the artist to shape a rather metaphysical reflexion upon the interdependencies between body and mind, interpretation of (self) love, what is the place of the body in our conception of femininity and consequently what is left of this concept once the question of the body has failed / is irrelevant. 


Four of five videos presented in the show are thematically directly connected to the artist's personal experience with breast cancer, and four of the five videos center around the artist's mother as a main character. Within a type of cinematography closed to the documentary, the artist and her mother face the camera as they would open up in the presence of a close friend, with trust and bravery, telling secrets, sharing raw emotions or giving the body its own decisive role in the communication, as it would constitute here the third protagonist of the story. 

In the only video the artist shot alone, Talking to Breasts - after which the exhibition is titled, Andrea Eva Győri performs what seems to be a farewell ceremony to her breasts that are about to be surgically removed. At times, she would caress them and murmur a few words, but she would also express more brutal gestures, as she would enter into a more anxious and upsetting state of emotions along the performance. Her face stays off-screen, as the movements of her hands, tears running down her chest and deaf sounds of skin rubbing would suffice to impact the viewer through the universal language of pain and grief.  

In the video Chestmassage, the artist receives a massage of her chest by her mother after the operation proceeded and both her breasts were removed. Suddenly, the mother disrupts the healing silence to share some thoughts on femininity. The setting changes into a library where the mother shows a picture of an ancient sculpture of a woman with large breasts, “a symbol of maternity”. From the inexhaustible argument of history or culture, she bases her speech on a series of stereotypes on the importance of normative beauty, and its crucial role in women's lives. In a spontaneous reaction of revolt, the artist suddenly tears her shirt into shreds, leaving her mother (and the viewer) to the bare vision of her flat and wounded chest. The exposure of nudity may be here again interpreted as a replacement for language, a reminder of the physical reality as the undeniable contradiction to a societal, mind constructed definition of truth. The artist's wordless manifest is indeed followed by a final scene, the continuation of the mother's massage of her daughter's chest in an interrupted silence this time, as if the resolution was taken that only their bodies could reconcile. 

At the end of the exhibition, as the viewer turns back to leave the space, one last film projects the very first video of the series, Punkhairdo Ritual, showing a spiritual, esoteric gathering with the artist and her friends performed in order to ritualize the loss of her hair during her first chemotherapy. The simple and repetitive words of the ceremony have a comforting and healing power, later the artist's mother proceeds to shaving her daughter's head as they embrace and kiss each other. The artist's hairless skull is reminded as the one of a newborn, as we assist to what seems like the rebirth of the original and unconditional bond between a mother and her child. 

The mirroring of scenes happening in early and later stages of the illness, as it gets more and more intrusive and devastating in the artist and her mother's lives becomes even more touching as they are viewed in reverse chronology. One may touch upon the complexity of these situations as they unfold and reveal family leitmotifs and melancholic beginnings. 


The second element of this exhibition is the presence of two cycles of drawings, separated and installed into built cabins within the gallery space, Chestsensivity and Between the Itchy Nose and Refreshing Program. In this way, the space architecture is reversing traditional codes of exhibiting as the drawings are exhibited in enclosed rooms under artificial light while the video works spread “outside” in the gallery space, slightly enlightened by rare rays of light we intentionally let enter from the windows. This setting reflect the major rupture between the two media, as the film focus mostly on relationships between the artist and the outside world (her mother, her friends, confrontation with social norms and with the stranger's “eye”), while the drawings deconstruct the artist's inner feelings and sensations, as they often depict several body parts connected to each other and experiencing in a differentiated manner fear, anger, pain, sadness etc. 


To my point of view, Andrea Eva Győri's art practice is extremely touching by its absolute goal of sincerity as it reaches not only one but several truths that are rarely put in perspective or nuanced in such a subtle and yet powerful manner. As the artist testifies through her body as both a mediator and the main character of her narrations, she also puts the physical language in a confrontation with a more articulated and social language filled not only with stereotypes and taboos, depicting another level of complexity and truth of one's reality. 

The contradiction between these two aspects thus reveal one of our most ancestral concern: an individual's outrageous difficulty to possess and decide for its own body, as the (female's) body more than often feels and is manipulated to belong to others, and its reappropriation process is a centuries' questioning and battle. Some of these battles being extremely relevant and crucial at the time of this writing. In this way I would dare to say here Andrea Eva Győri's body of work is revolutionary, as it refuses to relate to any predetermination and relies on one's sole trust in experimentation and instinctive intelligence, as these two instruments of independence symbolize major threats to authoritarianism and conservatism. 


This exhibition unfortunately will never be accessible physically to a wider audience due to the pandemic situation running in the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, as the Czech government didn't allow us to open galleries for three full months, and probably longer. As accompanying documentation, the gallery is releasing a filmed guided tour through the show, as one possible attempt to experience the show within its architecture. 







Video, Sound, 14:21 min., 2018

Commissioned by Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, NL



Andrea Éva Győri  - TALKING TO BREASTS

Video, Sounds, 45:46 min., 2018

Commissioned by Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, NL



Andrea Éva Győri - Mom Makes the Bed

HD Video, 7 minutes, 16:9, 2017




Video, Sound, 14:14 min., 2018

Commissioned by Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, NL



Andrea Éva Győri - Chestmassage

HD, 16:9, color, 10 min, 2019






Series of 15 drawings, Watercolour and pencil on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm



Andrea Éva Győri - Between the Itchy Nose and Refreshing Program

Series of 9 drawings, Watercolour and pencil on paper, 36 x 48 cm