A Glimpse into Roman Ondak’s Alternate Reality

Keyhole, 2012

Slovakian artist Roman Ondak (born 1966) is well known for his interventions in exhibition rooms and architectural spaces, extracting everyday objects and found images and repositioning them in participatory installations.

Ondak engages the everyday in both its forms and its processes. However, he inserts slight disruptions in how we perceive something ordinary, by focusing attention on things usually overlooked, or bringing out the absurdities in banal actions and events.

Adrastus Collection is proud to present Keyhole (2012), an installation brilliant for its simplicity while simultaneously incredibly complex and critical on its deepest layers of cognition. This artwork consists of a simple lock located in the inside the exhibition space, in which its keyhole overstep the layers of the gallery and reaches the exterior of the building. One peers through the keyhole into the outside of the gallery or museum, creating a small but bright glance of the day with its passersby and environment.

Keyhole (2012) installed at the Museo de Arte de Sonora

Keyhole (2012) conveys Ondak’s three main points of his artistic realm since the beginning of his career: (i) the rules and conventions that determine our everyday lives; (ii) the representation and reception of art; and (iii) the travel and movement from one place to another, whether it is physical or in the imagination.

(i) Looking through a keyhole is stigmatized by prohibitions and taboos; people who do it usually harbor voyeuristic desires to penetrate the secrets and private lives of others. In this installation, however, the relationship becomes inverted, and one looks from the protected museographic space out onto the public realm, exploring the confines of art and ordinary life.

(ii) The artist loves small, inconspicuous details that have the potential to exert a much larger effect. The grey zone that Ondak allows us to enter with Keyhole (2012) is situated somewhere between private and public experience, between a personal and collective scale. The field of vision is limited to what the hole in the lock is allowing us to see. This suggests a metaphor about subjectivity: we have limits to see, we have limits to understand, we have only one point of view. “We are the eye of a lock.”

(iii) With this everyday object, Ondak allows us to have the ability to change one’s position in a recurrent moment between an interior and exterior view; temporarily transporting us into different places and situations within the same reality.

Roman Ondak studied graphic design and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava from 1988 to 1994. Among his most important exhibitions include: Roman Ondak: Storyboard, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2015); Roman Ondak, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, Spain (2013); Roman Ondak: Some Thing, The Common Guild, Glasglow, United Kingdom (2013); do not walk outside this area, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany (2012); Roman Ondak, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris France (2012); Enter the Orbit, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich Switzerland (2011); Time Capsule, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (2011); Before Waiting Becomes Part of Your Life, Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Germany (2011); Loop, Czech and Slovak Pavilion of the 53rd Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2009); Measuring the Universe, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States (2009); Path, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, United States (2008).

Moreover, his work has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2016, 2006); MALBA Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, United States (2013); Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Germany (2012); MoMA PS1, New York United States (2011); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Neatherlands (2010, 2005); ICA, Boston United States (2008); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt Germany (2005), among others. And he has participated in the following biennials: the 54 th and 50 th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2011 & 2003); the 5th Moscow Biennial, Moscow, Russia (2013); and the 5th Liverpool Biennial. Liverpool, United Kingdom (2008).