Jana Kapelová & Veronika Olejárová / Rotating Happiness

01. 09. 2023 – 12. 10. 2023, opening 31. 08. 2023 7pm

The second research and exhibition cycle of Galerie 35M2 for 2023 is based on the concept of radical happiness, as defined by the Australian sociologist Lynne Segal. By contrast with the dominant ideology of individual happiness (with consumerism and individualised sexual desire, mixed together with ideals of romantic love at its core), this acts as a creative force through a cultivation and consolidation of our mutual ties and relationships with the world, in such a manner that individuals feel a connection and meaningful integration into a community. Radical happiness can therefore be defined as the moments of collective gratification that we find as soon as we are prepared to “go beyond and outside ourselves.” This concept therefore offers itself as a certain antidote to the current situation of the numbers pointing to constantly rising levels of individual unhappiness, depression, anxiety, loneliness or isolation, according to which we have never been so alone and unhappy as we are now. At the same time, to date there has never been a society which offered so many possibilities for satisfying our needs and desires. The billion-dollar happiness industry, which is built upon the ideology of individual happiness, with its ever-present commercial incitement to indulge in pleasure, continues to prosper. Happiness reaches us in the form of pills, apps, self-help manuals and a range of other “conveniences”. But the more we fulfil our desires, pleasures, dreams, the greater the void we envelop ourselves in. 

The Rotating Happiness exhibition project by Jana Kapelová and Veronika Olejárová is the first contribution to the concept of radical happiness, representing a struggle from the position of the individual, who in today’s crisis-filled world aspires to find an answer to the question of how to attain equanimity and live a happy life, or at least moments of it. Veronika Olejávorá’s work addresses the issue of how to work with these rotating moments of happiness within our hectic everyday lives. In this she draws upon her own experience of physical enjoyment, which she attempts to convey to the audience in the form of audio recordings and small drawings in which she thematises our frequent inability to recognise and properly feel these moments. At the same time, this may be linked with the various goals we set ourselves and the values we aspire to in our attempt to achieve happiness. With a small dose of detachment and irony, though in all seriousness, Jana Kapelová approaches this in her art project Joy, in which she analyses the stimuli that reach us via the medium of professional psychological literature and research on the influence of the four “hormones of happiness” (dopamine, endorphin, serotonin and oxytocin), together with stimuli from motivational literature and videos circulating on social networks, competing for the most views and likes. It thereby also reflects the fact that the longing for happiness and gratification is no longer the domain of philosophy and morality, but biochemistry and business. The main role is played by ceramic vessels as metaphors for the desire for personal fulfilment, in which each of them occupies different goals and values and thus also different ways of finding satisfaction. 

Jana Kapelová is a visual artist, educator, curator and cultural activist. In her work she focuses on themes such as work and precarization, leisure time and self-fulfilment, the influence of social and cultural environment, upbringing and education on the individual and society. In her artistic practice she works predominantly with the medium of video, installation, text, participatory art and delegated performances. She primarily uses the formats of authorial research and interview. Jana Kapelová was an active member of the artistic initiatives Dvadsať rokov od Nežnej neprebehlo [Twenty Years After the Velvet Revolution Did Not Happen,] (2010 – 2012) and Stojíme pri kultúre [We Stand By Culture] (2019). She studied at the Faculty of Education at Trnava University, The Faculty of Fine Arts in Banská Bystrica, the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. She has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, and currently co-heads the Studio of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. In 2014 she became a laureate of the Oskar Čepan Award. 

Veronika Olejárová is a recent graduate from the Fine Arts I studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague under Domink Lang and Edith Jeřábková, a visual artist and a cultural worker. In her free creative output, she intuitively seeks out moments that surround both her as an individual but also society, and in which she feels the greatest need to process them. She has been an active member of the Collective Inactions performance art group. She has collaborated on the creation of the stage design for the Studio Hrdinů theatre (The Last Chapter of the History of the World, Empire) and the stage design for the choreographer Natálie Vacková. In 2021 she co-founded the community of studios Inkubátor Krenovka. 

curator: Anežka Kořínková

photos: Peter Kolárčik