Eva Koťátková (born 1982) came into wider public awareness in 2007, when she won the Jindřich Chalupecký Award, the most prestigious Czech competition for young artists under the age of 35. The prize includes an independent exhibition in the Václav Špála Gallery, for which Koťátková created the project entitled A Walk to School (2008). Drawing on various media (drawing, installation, video, etc.) she embodied the negative emotions provoked by the walk to basic school. Eva Koťátková belongs to the generation which grew up in high-rise prefabs, part of which were the integrated buildings of basic schools – two long, narrow buildings connected by a glass atrium, with Formica on the floors and window boxes containing shrivelled up potted plants. Eva Koťátková managed to evoke the atmosphere of these places so perfectly that many visitors experienced an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. One of the central themes of the exhibition was that of physical restriction, in this specific instanceca used by the necessity to sit with backs straight along uncomfortable benches. Koťátková has elaborated on this motif in other works, including the independent exhibition Controlled Memory Loss, which was organised in 2010 by her home gallery hunt kastner artworks. As well as being shown in Prague, Controlled Memory Loss was also presented at the Art Basel show. Using tiny objects Koťátková presented fourteen made-up and in real life often impossible situations and appealed to viewers to expand on the situations in some way using texts or drawings. Though few took up the challenge, the appeal did encourage visitors to think about how they would themselves react under the same circumstances. The installation was supplemented with drawings, videos and photography, which again worked with unnatural and often unpleasant situations. And while Koťátková imposed restrictions on herself during implementation of the project for which she won the Chalupecký prize (for several days she was enclosed in a small room), during later events she took the role of director, marshalling performance participants or even the viewers themselves into specificsituations. This was so, for example, in the case of a project which she prepared for the small, independent premises of Altán Klamovka (Laid Table, 2006). During the private view Koťátková covered the entire premises with laid tables and placed her drawings near the ceiling of the gallery, so that only by standing on the tables were they at eye level. However, after the private view the tables were removed, and so other visitors had to raise their heads to see the works. Such interventions meant that Koťátková unsettles the viewing public, and provokes emotions and reactions. In addition she processes conceptual art into a form which can be appreciated even by those who criticise the concepts for being too obscure.
EVA KOŤÁTKOVÁ, Controlled Loss of Memory, installation, 2010, photo: Silvie Šeborová.