Ester Geislerová: What We Should’ve Said but Didn’t

Ester Geislerová:What We Should’ve Said but Didn’t

28/6—13/9 2024
Gallery 3

Curated by: Christelle Havranek and Denisa Václavová

From June 28, the exhibition What We Should Have Said but Didn't will be on display at Kunsthalle. Ester Geislerová, as a visual artist, explores her longstanding interest in romantic and intimate relationships. In ten short films, she examines the possibilities and limits of interpersonal communication. It will feature familiar faces such as Tomáš Jeřábek, Elizaveta Maximová, and Luděk Sobota. A playful combination of therapy, humor, acting skills, and surprises will offer an experience for those seeking depth in their own relationships and interested in contemporary artistic forms. Additionally, the artist returns to the place where she presented her diploma thesis for the Academy of Fine Arts twelve years ago.

"I'm interested in the moment when and how two people stop understanding each other. What happens to our social skills when communication becomes too painful? Why do the words of the other sound like they're from another planet even though we speak the same language?" says Ester Geislerová, whose artistic work spans between acting and visual arts. In recent years, she has also focused on the language of social media and, in collaboration with psychotherapist Jan Vojtek, successfully organized public lectures called Therapy Through Sharing LIVE. Regarding how her multifaceted exhibition draws from several worlds, she says:cI've taken something from each one and created my own hybrid. My favorite form of expression is video installations, where I work with acting as a tool. I've been in the film environment since I was five years old, so it's natural for me to use my experience."

For her latest and most extensive video installation yet, she approached close acquaintances with a performative task – to read a letter on camera. The performers mostly didn't know that the monologues related to romantic relationships were written by their partners. Their significant others were tasked with expressing their inarticulate feelings, something they have struggled to convey for a long time. Catharsis occurs in some of the ten films when the performer learns who wrote their monologue."What We Should Have Said but Didn't... Or couldn't, or didn't want to, we weren't ready, we were afraid," comments therapist Jan Vojtek.

Furthermore, actors contributed to their costumes, masks, scenes, and props. Most of them had the opportunity to choose a character they always wanted to play and dreamed of. The creation of the videos proceeded in close directorial collaboration with the artist, making the creative process a significant part of the project. Among the performers, you'll find Tomáš (Tomin) Jeřábek, Miu Rosu Kadlecová, Martin Hronský Krupa, Elizaveta Maximova, Matyáš Řezníček, Luďek Sobota, Jan Vojtek, or Viktor Zavadil.

In the videos, viewers will encounter not only human characters but also others. "A knight, a mermaid, or horsemen symbolize emotions, desires, and the need for closeness. Viewers become witnesses to a compelling confession and can experience the breaking of silence in the ritual of words and intimate monologues that alleviate internal pain. Finally, what is not spoken about is heard," notes exhibition curator Denisa Václavová.

For Ester Geislerová, the exhibition is also a symbolic return to a place where her art once came alive. She exhibited her diploma thesis, which concluded her studies in the New Media II studio at AVU in 2012, in the dusty attic of the then-abandoned Zenger Transformation Station. Since then, the building has undergone extensive transformation into the current space for art and culture. The current Kunsthalle Praha also received the main prize, the Grand Prix of Architects – National Architecture Award for 2022. The artist will exhibit her videos throughout Gallery 3 on the upper floor.

What We Should Have Said but Didn't also contributes to raising awareness about therapy and seeking psychological help. The exhibition emphasizes that talking about our feelings is normal and healthy. The audiovisual installations offer an opportunity to connect with those parts of our personalities that often remain neglected, unexpressed, and silent. Actors liberate us through words in each video. "I feel that going to therapy or seeking psychological help is still somewhat stigmatized. Many people feel that it's shameful or trendy, but I believe that this trend is one of the best we can have. To heal as a society, we should start with ourselves," adds Ester Geislerová.

You can also read exhibition texts by art historian Tomáš Pospiszyl and couples therapist Jan Vojtek online, as well as Ester Geislerová and curator Christelle Havranek in conversation:

The exhibition Ester Geislerová: What We Should Have Said but Didn't will take place from June 28 to September 13, 2024, accompanied by a rich program including an Art 'n' Dine dinner with Ester Geislerová and Therapy Through Sharing LIVE at Kunsthalle Praha.

Entry to Kunsthalle Praha is free with membership for those under 26 years old.

Kunsthalle Praha expresses gratitude to its partners (The Pudil Family Foundation, BMW, Dentons) and exhibition partners (Foto Škoda, Studio Beep).