Questions: Daniela and Linda Dostálková, Marek Pokorný
Translation: Kateřina Danielová
Agata Ingarden answers questions about a good life, well-being and the conflicts this topic causes.
The artist participates in the exhibition Optimised Fables about a Good Life (22/9/2022–1/1/2023) at PLATO.
My previous project “The House” was about searching for boredom. I think a lot about work time/space and “free time” and domestic space, or maybe on the two above merging in one. I put a lot of effort in trying to find balance between the two for myself, or finding a way to rest, which is not only a necessary requirement for being more productive afterwards. Being slightly hyperactive I force myself into stillness and try to cultivate the feeling of not having to do anything, letting myself just simply be. It sometimes even lasts 20 minutes.
I like a metaphor of the ant world. In this fable Ants gather and discuss existence of humans. Some say they exist and are good for ants or that they are not, some say they don’t exist. The Ant world gets divided, there are protests, marches, little banners, Ants get elected depending on their beliefs and then internal wars happen, movements, writing, imagining how humans build their families and hills. At the end a human walk through the anthill destroying it, without noticing.
For a while now I have been developing the “Dream House” narrative. “Dream House” is an imaginary software generating a real-life simulation for a group of dormant characters, called Butterfly People. The system seems to be supervised by characters called Emotional Police (EmoPolis) and maintained by another group of insomniac characters – Goblin People looking like Butterly People. Sometimes separate, sometimes merging as one character, Butterfly People explore the boundaries of their bodies, emotional states and communication through dance and non-organised movement in what seems to be a system built out of one room, multiple corridors and elevators with cables filled with ground, mushrooms and plants coming out of the architecture. All their efforts and energy, even when they try to rebel and break through the system, end up fuelling the entire program, which also somehow maintains their bodily functions and existence. Where and who are EmoPolis is not clear, but characters debate on that afterwards. And what is the idea behind the “Dream House” that puts the characters to sleep? Maybe the idea of unattainable “good life”.
It feels like my unhealthy routine is being punctured by healthy rituals, (sport, healthy food, meditation). One of the highlights of my guilty pleasures is going to sleep very late, watching anime and making pasta at 3 am. I also have an on-and-off relationship with cigarettes.
Living in a self-sustainable community, with friends, somewhere in nature, eating potatoes with butter and cream with chives every day.
I like to believe we have a choice, and willpower to create lifestyle that suits us.
Screen Time Limit is something I usually ignore. But it’s installed on my phone for 10 minutes a day. It fatigues me to always be available. I dream of holidays without a phone.
I think we all try to optimise ourselves, trying to be the best version of ourselves or something. I struggle with the idea of feeling enough or not enough because it presupposes an ideal. I work towards feeling like I am doing enough.
I do. And all these seemingly unrelated things feed my work anyway. At the same time, I feel I don’t really work ever because exactly what we do is mistaken for a free activity, and in effect I work all the time.
I sometimes want to run away from being myself. It feels tiring to communicate what’s in my head. I try to reinventing the rules for myself. Inventing a game, a scheme, and then realising it’s all again the same, but maybe a tiny bit different… I don’t want to run from work ethics, this I try to build solid.
I try to make my production being aware of environmental issues. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice and a process. It definitely makes me question a lot of current models of exhibiting works, art fairs, transports, storage etc.
A friend told me a dream in which they woke up to a world where you have to pay in order to sleep. Everyone is an indebted insomniac, anxious, stressed and working twice as hard to be able to pay for their sleeping hours to be more productive. Sleeping Beauty Corp. provides sensory deprivation – sleeping tanks in 5 minutes regenerating the body and convincing the brain it had hours of sleep.
Agata Ingarden's (b. 1994) practice is based on the exploration of posthuman mythic narratives. She works with many different media – large-scale multi-component installations combining industrial materials with natural resources and products such as wood, sugar, oyster shells, beeswax, and butterflies preserved in salt are often complemented and enhanced by narrative devices and sound or video. Agata Ingarden's work can be interpreted as a commentary on the ambiguous relations between nature and technology in the Anthropocene epoch, or even as a vision of a post-apocalyptic world devoid of human life. The Polish artist graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris and studied at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York.