Woman with an Iron

Anna Hulačová

Woman with an Iron, 2020

Part of a new group of sculptures produced in the context of the Next Shift exhibition (2020), Woman with an Iron, depicts an anonymous female figure, holding on to a domestic device. We are faced with the theme of everyday life, old as art itself. A theme characteristic for its universality, which can be found in the art of Antiquity as much as in the art of the 20th century inter-war period, socialist realism or contemporary art for that matter. The sculpture follows an automatized choreography, resembling themes of industrialization, factory labor, mechanical reproduction, and technological progress, motives, characteristic for inter-war figuration, and socialist sculpture produced in Czechoslovakia between the 1950’s and the 1980’s. Stripped of its identity through the absence of the face, a common feature in the artist’s work, the sculpture translates a heightened sense of robotic behavior, shaping one of its multiple identities. Identity is a crucial subject for Hulačová, namely in relation to her understanding of the contemporary man within the digital era, whose character remains ambiguous as re-shaped by the virtual reality distinctive for our present. In the shape of a pair of trousers, in this case, a symbol of masculinity, the shadow, supposedly cast by the figure, generates a feeling of confusion and ambiguity while creating a silent commentary on traditional role division within the family nucleus. Trapped in daily life automatization, the sculpture is absent of social relations and interpersonal interaction. The machine, in this case, an iron, becomes an extension of the body, rendering the role of the master and the servant ambiguous. Insinuating a sense of madness and delirium, emphasized by the absence of worked/ironed surface, the work questions our technology-driven present through the tropes of the domestic environment.

Combining a wide range of techniques and materials, Hulačová furthers the exploration of her themes in the materiality of the work. By combining brutalist features such as concrete, a central material of the work with organic forms, Hulačová points to our time’s hybrid nature, where seemingly distant or even opposed forms merge and mutate into a new reality. The greyness of the material furthered by the greyness of Hulačová’s drawings heightens the apocalyptic nature of the work, initiating a play of the haptic, where the hard and the soft, the dry and the wet, the smooth and the rough, become a reminder that materiality, physical experience and encounter have yet not been rendered obsolete.

Anna Hulačová has exhibited her work at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Kunstvereniging Diepenheim, Netherlands; Baltic Triennial, Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius; Prague City Gallery; Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, Prague; Biennale Gherdeina, Ortisei, Italy; National Gallery, Trade Fair Palace, Prague; K11 MUSEA, Hong Kong; MO.CO. Montpellier Contemporaine, France; West Bohemian Gallery, Pilsen, Czechia; East Slovak Regional Gallery, Košice, Slovakia; CEAAC, Strasbourg, France, and Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, among others.