Roman Ondák

The work of Roman Ondak is characterized by an interventionist praxis that takes a subtle approach to reality in order to transform the visible structures of everyday experience in an unconventional way. Ephemeral performances as well as direct interventions serve as the basis for many of Ondak’s in situ works, whether in art institutions or as public art projects. Quite often, the artist will initiate participatory projects with people from various locales or communities, whom he involves in performing a certain task. The result can be installations, photos or drawings via which the actions thus carried out find their entry into the realm of art.

The artist’s anti-approaches or reversals of a given reality, especially regarding the issue of production, are often associated with the works of Július Koller, whom he helped to be rediscovered by an international art audience through curated shows and several collaborations. Koller’s role as precursor to Slovak contemporary art, along with his rejection of a dominant reality via the formulation of anti-art statements and performances is reflected in Ondak’s take on everyday situations, which seem like everyday events yet are given a certain twist, such as when a crowd of people was invited to stand in line in front of the Kölnischer Kunstverein in 2005 in order to suggest to the public that a big event was imminent. Ondak’s work very often focuses on the observation of sometimes unnoticeable details, which are heightened by a process in which the artist explores and transforms usual routines, causing them to suddenly attract attention.

Occasionally, Ondak will also transform architectural environments through a reversal of scales or of interior and exterior scenes. The latter was demonstrated in 2006 in a show at Tate Modern, where he built a miniature model of the Turbine Hall to be installed as a room-filling installation in the Level 2 Gallery. Another example was his contribution to the 2009 Venice Bienniale, in which he extended the garden atmosphere of the Giardini into the Czech-Slovak Pavilion with soil and plants so that one could walk through as if there were no building or roof.

Dealing with specific social and spatial entities has become one of the artist’s trademarks in his quest to focus the viewer’s gaze on those sometimes mundane moments that take on of significant importance through Ondak’s artistic alterations and interventions.



1966, Žilina / SK, at that time ČSSR



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