Fotograf Magazine

Apocalypse Me

With the publishing project Apocalypse Me, Jan Zálešák upgrades
and takes a theoretic stock of the 2016 homonymous exhibition in the
Emil Filla Gallery.1 The exhibition, together with the text Look Above,
the Sky Is Falling: Humanity Before and After the End of the World by
Pedro Naves2, became the basis for grasping “the irreversibility of the
end of the world and the inability to experience it in any other way than
through one’s self”3 in a theoretical, multi-layered reflection. Reflecting
the contemporary visual arts (film, photography, video, performance,
installation, objects, sound), the book maps the network of theoretical discourses, examining the internal and external correlations of the contemporary world, which is facing an ever more urgent political, environmental, financial and social crisis. In the context of the central theme of “the crisis-apocalypse”, Zálešák focused on four areas: the human psyche, time-acceleration, the Anthropocene, and post-humanism, confronting the interdisciplinary range of theoretical and artistic
reflections (in both exhibitions and works) on the crumbling systems,
unclear prospects, limits, chaos, unclear horizons of expectations,
and their consequences reflected in the human psyche, problematic
interpersonal relationships, and the inability to integrate. He refers to
texts by Miroslav Petříček, Timothy Morton, Jonathan Crary and many
others. The psychological aspect of the fear and mood caused by these
problems is reflected in the visual concept of the ubiquitous existential
unrest (e.g. the K-HOLE collective, Anne Imhof, etc.). The second part of
the book focuses on the political aspects of capit alist realism, modernity,
relational aesthetics, and socialist utopia, emphasizing the metaphor of
acceleration and the sense of hopelessness.4 Looking at the problems
of acceleration, reflected across the scientific (e.g. Zygmund Bauman,
Marek Fisher, Yascha Mounk, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams) and artistic
(Aleš Čermák and Michal Cáb, Palo Chaan) spectrums, Zálešák deals
with the reflection on the crisis in global environment al politics and its
tendency towards the Anthropocene in the next chapter, “The World
after Humans”. He juxtaposes, for example, Jason W. Moort’s views
of environmentalism (the appropriation of “cheap” nature), Pavel
Sterec’s illustrative art moralistic plane and Vilém Novák’s “blurring plane
between the human and inhuman”5. The last part of the book on posthumanism
is conceived from the philosophical perspective of monism as
it is reflected primarily by Jane Bennett, referring to B aruch Spinoza,6 and
radicalization of the dualism of man and nature, i.e. possible scenarios of
the future development of humanity.
     In his study, Zálešák points to a very diverse range of debates dealing
with the crisis. Without difficulty, he guides the reader through a valuable
map of diverse interdisciplinary ways of thinking and reflections on the
crisis of community in the visual and theoretical perspective. What matters
is the depth of feeling, value, price, and sense of being.


Pavlína Vogelová


Zálešák, Jan. Apocalypse Me. Brno: University of Technology, Faculty of Fine Arts, 2016. ISBN: 978-80-214-5443-9.

1 The Emil Filla Gallery, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, 3. 3. –15. 4. 2016, the artists exhibiting at Apocalypse Me included: Josef Bolf, Aleš Čermák – Michal Cáb, Martin Kohout, Vilém Novák, Anna Slámová, Pavel Sterec, and Palo Cháán (Patricia Dominguez and Irvin Morázan). Curated by Jan Zálešák.

2 Pedro Neves Marques. Look Above, the Sky Is Falling. Humanity Before and After the End of the World, e-flux journal No. 65 (SUPERCOMMUNITY), August 2015. online

3 Pedro Neves Marques. Look Above, the Sky Is Falling. Humanity Before and After the End of the World, e-flux journal No. 65 (SUPERCOMMUNITY), August 2015. online

4 Zálešák, Jan. Apocalypse Me. Brno: Faculty of Fine Arts, 2016, p. 8.

5 Ibid, p. 51.

6 Ibid, p. 101.

7 Bennett, Jane. System and Things. GRUSIN, Richard. The nonhuman turn. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. ISBN 9780816694679.