Brno, 1977

Curated by Andrea Lerda.

The artistic practice of Kateřina Šedá, an internationally renowned Czech artist born in Brno in 1977, can easily be considered as part of what Fanni Fetzer defined as “therapeutic” art. Her works stem from social research and mingle city planning, architecture, politics, economic dynamics and private and collective relationships. They consist in public actions designed, planned and coordinated by the very artist revolving around the communities and locations where they take place.

Kateřina Šedá is a sort of catalyst, a director inside the public space. By building upon problematic situations, she establishes a direct dialogue with people, and she tries to mend the tears caused by political and economic power or social dynamics by building a complex system of actions and participatory experiences. The artist gives life to a series of both vertical and horizontal actions with the aim of overcoming the physical and mental barriers concealed by the complex realities examined from time to time. The pro- duction of artworks is just the last step of a complex journey that deems artistic objects as therapeutic instruments. The core of historic works that have enabled her artistic practice to be internationally recognisable is composed of the projects There Is Nothing There (2003); It Doesn’t Matter (2005); For Every Dog A Different Master (2007); Over and Over (2008); The Spirit of Uhyst (2009) and Mirror Hill (2010).
The exhibition AS A UFO, curated by Andrea Lerda and to be hosted by the Michela Rizzo Gallery in Venice from 6th April 2018, anticipates Kateřina Šedá’s participation in the next edition of the Venice Architecture Biennial, which will see the artist be the protagonist of the Czech and Slovakian Pavilion.
The project, which represents the return to Italy of one of the most interesting contemporary artists, aims at presenting, for the first time inside a private space, a broad overview of No Light, a project that the artist has been working on since 2010. Said project was exhibited at the TATE in London, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden, the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne and the Künstlerhaus in Bremen.
The exhibition is structured as a temporal path able to recount some of the main phases of an ongoing artistic project by presenting unexhibited works together with a new series produced for the occasion.
AS A UFO is directly linked to the artist’s participation in this year’s Architecture Biennial and anticipates a reflection on current issues that directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have enshrined in the evocative, significant title FREESPACE.
“As a ufo” is how the citizens of Nošovice (a small Czech village in the Moravian-Silesian Region) describe the Hyun- dai factory that violently came to occupy the urban fabric of the village in 2008.

The famous automobile multinational corporation was asked to occupy a large building located in an agricultural area at the centre of Nošovice, which has in turn been deeply affected by it. The geography of the territory has changed, and the road that once crossed the countryside and linked some parts of the village has disappeared forever, blocked by an impassable gate. The new factory is surrounded by a wall made of earth that is allegedly required to preserve trade secrets, but in fact, deeply affects the personal relationships and ability to move of the entire community.
When Kateřina Šedá visited Nošovice for the first time, in 2008, she felt completely powerless. The urban layout had been changed, the dynamics that regulated the relation- ships among people had been modified, and the balance of an entire community had been upset. In this setting, the citizens would constantly repeat these words when speaking to the artist: “There is nothing left for us to do”. Kateřina Šedá has tried to prompt the community to elaborate a solution to the problem through a multi-annual pro- cess that has consisted of several phases and has led to the production of a number of artworks (objects, photos, drawings, live actions). Thanks to the participatory approach typical of her way of working, No Light is to be intended as an experience that transcends artistic borders. Its aim is to cope with the intimate and collective trauma caused by the settlement of the Hyundai factory and to try to pinpoint new communication models and ways of inhabiting the limit.
The choice of presenting the exhibition AS A UFO a couple of months prior to the opening of the next edition of the Venice Architecture Biennial is by no means casual. Kateřina Šedá’s research is in direct dialogue with contemporary society, which has seen a steady increase in the use of the words “barrier” and “limit”. These terms evoke scenarios in our minds that are the opposite of those evoked by the image of free space.
Within a globalised, hyperconnected world that is apparently devoid of obstacles to communication, the sometimes latent, sometimes apparent tendency to build barriers cannot be ignored. Witness the concrete ones used to protect urban centres from unpredictable terrorist attacks, or the famous wall that the President of the United States of America Donald Trump announced and promised he would build on the border with Mexico. On top of the physical bar- riers, economic, cultural, social and religious ones are le- gion. There are past situations that still require dealing with, while others appear as new ways of setting limits.
By proposing a broad overview of the No Light project by Kateřina Šedá, the exhibition AS A UFO aims at highlighting the modern and current nature of the practice of this interesting artist. Upon reflecting on the theme of limits, AS A UFO calls for dialogue and the overcoming of contemporary barriers.

Kateřina Šedá (1977) is a Czech artist whose work is close to social architecture. In 1999–2005 she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague with Professor Vladimír Kokolia.

In her work, Kateřina Šedá focuses on socially-conceived events, often employing dozens or hundreds of people who have nothing to do with art. The events mostly take place right in villages or city streets. The purpose of experimenting with interpersonal relationships is to bring those involved out of their stereotypes or social isolation. She tries to induce a lasting change in their behaviour by means of their own (provoked) activity and a new usage of everyday resources.

She is the author of a number of socially conceived projects that she realised in the Czech Republic and abroad. She was invited to make individual projects for example by Artpark Buffalo Niagara in USA (2022–2024), Milton Keynes Art Centre in UK (2022–2023), LIAF in Norway (2019), IHME, Helsinki (2016), SF Moma, San Francisco (2013–2014), Tate Modern, London (2011), and many others. She exhibited at 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice (2018), the MMOMA, Moscow (2016), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Japan, he Venice Biennale (2013), Kunstmuseum Luzern (2012), the Mori Museum, Tokyo (2010), the New Museum, New York (2009), Manifesta 7, Bolzano (2008), the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008), the Renaissance Society, Chicago (2008) and Documenta 12, Kassel (2007), among others.

She received many awards for her work: Architect of the Year 2017 (Czech republic), Magnesia Litera for journalism (Czech Republic), TAKU Production Prize (Finland), The Most Beautiful Czech Books (Czech Republic), Contemporary Art Society Award (Great Britain), Jindřich Chalupecký Award (Czech Republic), Fluxus Award (Germany), Essl Award (Austria), among others. She has published more than thirty books and publications, mapping her individual projects in detail. She lectures about her work at schools, in cultural centres and galleries, but also in villages and small towns, trying to give an idea about her work to large audiences, and thus prompt them to their own activity.

Curriculum vitae

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