Ladislav ─îarn├Ż (* 1949)
Ironing for Men (from the series Housework for Men), 2004
interactive sound system, ironing board, iron, PC, cabling, laundry basket
from the collection of the the Museum of Art in ┼Żilina
acquired by purchase from the artist in 2017
In an interview about his work in direct connection to this installation, Ladislav ─îarn├Ż stated that, thanks to this piece, he is “suspected by some women of being an essentialist feminist.” This attribute also relates to another interractive installation Vacuum Cleaning for men (2001), both belonging to his series Housework for Men. If we were to view this series or rather the two works from the perspective of the subject, they really form a unique category of works in which the artist – from the position of a man – reflects the issue of the division of gender roles and their respective activities performed by women and men. The thought predecessor of this installation is the mentioned work, where a viewer revealed an excerpt of a text by the artist Meret Oppenheim by vacuuming a carpet in a darkened room, in which she says that since the patriarchy was established, men forced women to experience their own femininity twice – they are like women to the squared. In terms of the form of the work – an interactive installation — it is a continuation of a group of works by the artist in which he works with the text: it concerns its meaning, problems associated with its perception, but also interpretation and inability to grasp it – which the author demonstrated by the interaction with the installation – while vacuming it was not possible to read the whole – under UV light in the tube of the vacuum cleaner, only the relevant part always appeared on the carpet created with photoluminous paint. Working with light in various forms: mirroring, reflection, but also on the basis of the described technique of its emergence in the dark through light text, is an important indicator of his working with light in various forms: mirroring, reflection, but also on the basis of the described technique of its emergence in the dark through light text, is an important indicator of his work.
The work Ironing for Men similarly contains an element of interactivity – the direct physical presence and activity of an individual (and an important element of the works in the field of installation for the artist), which must perform it to work – by pressing the hand on the iron and sliding it across the board. The work is a statement given from the perspective of a man, but it certainly does not allude to the idea that the artist (with a dose of “machismo”) would agree with the problematic division of domestic work into women’s and men’s. On the contrary: he personally considers this division to be a gender sensitive issue, but also, using subtle exaggeration, he aims to disrupt and relativize this scheme, as the family construct is not only given biologically – it is an unstable and variable category, but above all social relationships and interactions.