SHAME TO PRIDE | JAKUB JANSA
Shame to Pride (2021) is the seventh chapter of Jakub Jansa’s video installation project. The Prague artist has thought of a long-term exhibition that develops over time with an audiovisual narrative divided into chapters in which each chapter is installed with different solutions and always in transformation: this interdisciplinary choice thus creates a changing experience of history of the strange protagonists of Club of Opportunities, the title chosen to collect the entire project. Also showing the elements that are part of film production, the viewer lives in a limbo between the narration and the process that made its realization possible.
We are in the Vegesociety, a vegetable society founded on a very strict hierarchy and divided between the upper class and the poorer class. The protagonist of the story is a celeriac with human features who wants to redeem himself and try to enter the noble rank and build a new career from there: at the apex of the social pyramid of Vegesociety there are avocados, snobbish artistocrats who lay down the law and who, without scruples, they mock all the other vegetables. To create order in this dense and stratified narration is a philosopher, this time an human named Kamil Nabelek, who, like a contemporary Virgil, guides the protagonist and above all the observer with a series of reflections and comments that highlights the difficulty of this path of vicissitudes and difficulties, almost an antithesis of the Bildungsroman in which the closer the protagonist gets to his revenge, the more he falls into a circle of vices and frustrations.
Is it possible to live unrooted? He’s done a lot to get closer to the lifestyle of avocados, but when they accept him, it’s hard to be really one of them. (…) At the same time, he can’t go back, the world of other celeriacs is no longer his world. He doesn’t belong anywhere.
After being invited to dinner by avocados our protagonist is finally within high society but this new status throws him into a hopelessness, as Nebelek’s words suggest, he no longer recognizes himself either in his current condition nor in its origins. He is now in a vacuum, in suspension and without certainty, he no longer wants to fully recognize himself with his new status and can no longer go back to his origins.
Shame to Pride plunges the observer into this Kafkaesque society in which men and plants merge into grotesque and bizarre characters, mirrors of the oppressive hierarchy of contemporary digital society. The video is subsequently installed with a series of multiple projections with staggered playback times: in this way there is no linear flow of the story, rather a complication of it, it is now the observer who has to reconstruct the different phases, moving as in inside of a mystery novel. With extreme rigor and cleanliness, Jansa creates lynch-like and mysterious atmospheres in which the frustrations of our millennium come to the surface: the importance and perhaps the human urgency of continuing to transform within society remains, but underlines at the greatest risk, that of being dazzled by wrong models, like crazed moths rotating around a light source that does not heat but burns and leads to death. Shame to pride therefore invites us to rethink which models to elect as a reference and as a guide, because perhaps it is not our positioning in society that defines us. And in fact, despite the objectives achieved, our protagonist at the end of chapter 7 asks himself:
But can I feel less lonely?
Club of Opportunities, Episode 7: SHAME TO PRIDE, 2021
Installation view 20 minutes, 3-chanel video
Moravskà galerie, Jindrich Chalupecky Award 2021
© courtesy the Jakub Jansa