The Garden of Problems
Book

Uncovers the themes addressed
in the Club of Opportunities through the essays
of the invited authors

⇧ CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO DOWNLOAD THE BOOK

Title: Club of Opportunities: The Garden of Problems
Book language: English-Czech edition
Author: Jakub Jansa
Designed by: Robert Jansa, Petr Bosák, Martin Groch
Publisher: UMPRUM
ISBN: 978-80-88308-55-3
Selling price: 550 CZK
Binding: paperback
Number of pages: 276

Annotation: The book uncovers the themes addressed in the Club of Opportunities, an episodic project created by artist Jakub Jansa, starring hybrid human-vegetable creatures who question authority and cultural and class relationships. Through the texts of the invited authors (Michal Novotný, Julie Béna, Kamil Nábělek, Noemi Purkrábková, Jozef Mrva Jr., Ernestyna Orlowska, Klára Vlasáková, Jan Bělíček), we get to the bottom of multiple problems – with celeriac ontology, black magic, humour, losing vision of the future and especially with taking root. Jakub Jansa works in various media ranging from film to sculptural elements, installations and live performances. Each of the exhibition events tends to merge with the architecture of the space they inhabit. They are reminiscent of film or TV sets where the narrative gradually unfolds through a carefully designed dramaturgy of various elements (video, objects, live action) while we – the visitors – move through the space.

Jakub Jansa
Jakub Jansa

The Garden of Problems

GHMP, Prague City Gallery
8 November 2023 - 18 February 2024

We get to the bottom of multiple problems here – with celeriac ontology, black magic, humour, losing vision of the future and especially with taking root.

Artist: Jakub Jansa
Exhibition title: The Garden of problems
Curator: Sandra Baborovská
Part of venue: Thinking Through Film
Location: 1. floor of the the Stone Bell House, GHMP, Prague
Dates: 8. 11. 2023 – 18. 2. 2024
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and GHMP, Prague, foto: Jan Kolský

The first floor of gothic Stone Bell House, is dedicated to Jakub Jansa’s Garden of Problems project, which for the first time brings together episodes from the Club of Opportunities series, dating from 2017 to the present. Viewers visit the gallery instead of “Netflixing.” The Garden of Problems show presents seven successive episodes in seven halls, which together form a complex story.The series thematizes social issues of our time and raises questions about authority and cultural and class relationships. Underprivileged entities turn into elites and vice versa, with new opportunities arising during this transformation. Each episode creates situations between reality and fiction, gradually revealing the story through video, objects, set design and acting performance.

Author and director: Jakub Jansa
Collaborators: Kamil Nábělek, Kryštof Hlůže, Karolína Juříková, Oliver Torr, Dominik Dabrowski, Alice Krajčířová, Sebastian Kučkovský, Iryna Drahun, Matěj Martinec, Kryštof Hlůže, Eliška Pitráková, Nicolas Atcheson, Růst Cakes Performance: Jan Kostiha, Ester Geislerová., Kamil Nábělek,
Trin Alt Vajd, Mark.ta VuTru, Dexton Kotora, Katsuhiro Iwashita, Veronika Čechmánková., Jakub Samek, Zai Xu, Linda Vondrová., Rokhaya Gueye, Anita Lubadika, Adéla Sobotková., Mary Nguyen, Linh Nguyen, Agáta Hrnčířová.

1.
We follow the character of the Seer (Oracle), who no longer has a vision of the future and feels anxious. We witness the Seer touching all celeriacs and giving them tattoos with socially beneficial functions. The form of a confessional interview is complemented by emotional, music-tinged interludes, as the Seer tattoos the celeriacs with the names of various positively perceived occupations or rather functions or destinies. A deconstruction of storytelling in relation to expected role choices and expected scenarios is at the core of the work.

2.
The character of the Red Herring, a hybrid creature between a human and a celeriac, is introduced. And now he’s challenging his origin, i.e., revolting against the Seer. He discovers that mythology is mere narrative. By taking control of this narrative, he can steer it in a different direction. He leaves his safe place within the myth to enter the battlefield and fight on a political level. He finds his own individuality and becomes a dark-side influencer

3.
Red Herring works in an avocado bar, where he compares himself to elites—the avocados. He wants to become part of the higher vegesociety. In the process, he must undergo an insulting battle with his inner self. He doubts himself and experiences an identity crisis.

4.
We observe the celerist in yet another surprising situation - he gains status in the vegesociety and is invited into avocado circles. However, he cannot internally relate to this new social
class. At the same time, he has already made a break with the environment from which he emerged. He experiences an intense sense of rootlessness and can only be relieved by class and social coming out. He founds a movement for uprooted vegetables.

5.
In the position of the hot vegetable of the season, the celerist is invited to speak at the Flower Union’s gala event. The supernatural figure of the Seer, no longer able to predict the future, takes over the second part of the programme and activates the decorative flowers in an eco-sexual celebratory ritual. The Seer shows the plants that if they put their pistils and calyxes together, they can reach out to the public and change the course of things. So let’s hope that the ability to see into the future returns again.

Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Opening Ceremony, 2022, (the episode presents “The Problem with Art in Service”), video, 4K, 10′
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Opening Ceremony, 2022
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Opening Ceremony, 2022
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Opening Ceremony, 2022
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Opening Ceremony, 2022
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Shame to Pride, 2021
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP,  Hyglitised celeriac, 2023
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP,  Highlighted celeriac, 2023
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Keeping in Line, 2018
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Keeping in Line, 2018
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, My Name Is Red Herring, 2018
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Keeping in Line, 2018
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Keeping in Line, 2018
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, My Name Is Red Herring, 2018
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, April Showers Bring May Flowers, 2018
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Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, April Showers Bring May Flowers, 2018
Jakub Jansa, The Garden Of Problems, GHMP, Entrance

DESCRIPTION OF ARTISTIC PRACTICE

When Celeriac Decides to
Break Through the Glass Ceiling

The work of artist Jakub Jansa develops theories
and observations about social hierarchy through
precarised vegetables and the privileged avocado.

Text by Jan Bělíček

A visual artist, Jakub Jansa has been working on a rather unique art project for several years. Exactly according to the opening motto of his new book Club of Opportunities, he “settled into the comfort zone of his mind” and began to develop the fates of several fictional characters through his installations with the help of theorist Kamil Nábělek. At the very beginning there was allegedly a miniature budget for the new project, for which Jansa bought ten celery roots and called the theorist Kamil Nábělek to see if he knew how to use them creatively. The eccentric thinker Nábělek immediately began to develop a theory of celeriac ontology and to talk about the hierarchies of vegesociety. At the very bottom of this hierarchy is the unattractive and neglected celery root. The admired and praised avocado works as its complete opposite. These are the two poles of the social hierarchy between which this whole art project moves. Why celery root and avocado?

Celery root is one of the most overlooked crops in Nábělka’s ontology. People often consume it only as an obligatory component of meals. It is an ingredient that is necessary in most dishes, but aesthetically it is almost nonexistent for us. It doesn’t taste unique on its own, there is no special story built around it as an important superfood, and its appearance doesn’t promise anything fantastic either. We don’t usually think about the taste and aroma of celery root, even though its contribution to the final enjoyment of a meal is often irreplaceable. Its presentation in supermarket chains is very simple, and proper celery root is sold covered in layers of soil, which signifies its freshness but also clearly defines its place in the spatial hierarchy of the vegesociety.

Jansa’s long-term art project was created in 2017 and includes eight projects so far. The last episode of Opening Ceremony was part of the presentation of contemporary Czech art in Brussels during the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In November, for the first time, it will be possible to see all these episodes together in one place at the Thinking Through Film exhibition at the Prague Stone Bell House, where one entire floor will be dedicated to Jansa. The exhibition is planned to be a set of several video installations with performative elements, mixing an accomplished visual language with humour, contemporary leftist theory, and exploration of political strategies on social media, but also including comedy, absurdity, and playfulness. The installation will probably include Kamil Nábělek, who will casually explain to the audience what phase of the story they are in and what dynamics of the action they are observing.

Jansa’s artistic project basically follows, over a long period of time, two main characters whose fates he gradually develops in each instalment of the project. One of them is the Wisewoman, a kind-hearted and empathetic character who is going through an inner crisis and has paradoxically lost her ability to predict the future. For Jakub Jansa, this figure partly represents the crisis of liberalism and liberal democracy. The Wisewoman used to be someone who had a natural place in society and could guess, relatively effortlessly, what the near future would bring. But now she is struggling and feels that she no longer understands the contemporary world.

The second important character is the Celerist, half human, half celery root, and a bit of an outsider to the vegesociety. The Celerist is a human who starts at the very bottom and we follow his inner development which in many ways follows the important social debates of the last few years. In the third episode, 2018’s My Name is Red Herring, Celerist is suddenly an arrogant and somewhat comical alt-right influencer. In the video, which features aesthetics reminiscent of speeches by motivational coaches, Celerist advises the audience on how to crack down on leftist opponents. In this work, Jansa partly follows up his diploma thesis Spiritual Fitness, in which he worked on the phenomenon of motivational coaches and their rhetorical manipulations.

Celerist’s far-right anger stems mainly from his social status. As people become more interested in him, his aspirations change. Suddenly he craves admiration and fame. For the first time, he hesitantly begins to observe the higher, avocado class of beings in the vegesociety and wants to penetrate these higher levels. Back in 2018, in the fifth episode entitled Keeping in Line, Celerist confronts his own conscience. His conscience reminds him, subtly at first and then more insistently, that he is gradually losing his true identity and trying to be something he is definitely not. His interaction with his conscience is brisk, comic, and visually appealing, but at the same time contains a deeper message concerning issues of authenticity and social mobility.

For the wider public, the figure of Celerist became visible in 2021 when Jansa won the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. In the Pražák Palace of the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the story of Celerist became part of a collective exhibition of several prominent contemporary artists, thus indirectly communicating with the works of Robert Gabris, Valentýna Janů, Anna Ročňová, and the björnsonova art collective. The video installation clearly showed that, for the first time, the artists had the financial and institutional support making it possible to bring their vision to formal perfection. The seventh episode, Shame to Pride, marks the provisional peak of the series and is the most accomplished visually and conceptually as well as in terms of acting, set design, design and camera, and lighting work.

At this exhibition, the audience encountered Celerist in his self-inquiring phase. Through hard work, he has finally managed to break into the upper echelons of society, but he feels out of place there. Pretentious avocados constantly let him know that he is not one of them, and he feels a whole range of social barriers that his celerist habitus is simply not up to. This episode perhaps most clearly picked up on some of the themes that are of key importance to contemporary art, namely questions of origin, social belonging, and the search for one’s own identity and authenticity in a world that, while craving the effect of authenticity, is also constantly increasing a gap between fact and fiction, self-design, and pure lies.

In the Celerist story, we find ourselves in a bizarre world where imagination permeates the well-known laws of contemporary society and where purely social issues intersect with the wilderness of vegetation. Jansa, assisted by Nábělek, sees the formation of hierarchies in the realm of fruit and vegetables, which in an absurd way copy the hierarchies we know from our social reality. He took a path radical in both aesthetic and thematic terms by deciding to anthropomorphize the issue. In many ways, this brilliant idea also brings with it very interesting aesthetic possibilities. Celerist, a celery root in human form, may fit in with the elite in the way he dresses and expresses himself, but his face shows the unpleasant roots that remind us of his being born from mud and dirt. Although he aspires to join the Club of the Highest Opportunities, his visual appearance immediately draws attention to the inappropriateness of these aspirations. In a grotesque and dramatically urgent way, he is reminiscent of the Italian writer Elena Ferrante’s exclamation that it is unimportant whether one goes up or down the social ladder. Class origin will always manifest itself in extreme situations, just as a person suddenly blushes.

In addition, Jansa’s opulent visual style also deals with the dilemmas facing today’s society. He stresses the importance of the search for sources of aggressive male energy, which mutates into increasingly radical political expressions and is driven forward by frustration and lack of appreciation. In the figure of the Wisewoman, he introduces into this game the wandering and groping of contemporary liberalism, which cannot confront these phenomena in any way and loses touch with reality and its own ideas about the future. He also reflects on how self stylization affects the formation of the identity of people today and observes how strongly the influence of social networks is imprinted on this process. Although his work appears to be an elaborate grotesquery about the rise and fall of a fictional character, it is in fact also a peculiar way of responding to disturbing tendencies in contemporary society. In each episode, he attempts to capture phenomena that escape other people’s observation and experience of reality while offering his own subtle comments and suggestions on how to relate to these disturbing phenomena. His work, however, effectively envelops these aspects in a visually opulent and witty form which leaves the viewer a great deal of room for imagination and reveals an experience of the elusiveness and openness towards reality that simply cannot be separated from the experience of contemporary life.

Jan Bělíček is the editor-in-chief of the Alarm online daily

RESUME

Jakub Jansa
Jakub Jansa portrait

INTERVIEW

Be careful where you enter, brainiacs!
Interview Tjaša Pogačar and Jakub Jansa

Flower Union

Opening ceremony

(video)

► Play Video
Jakub Jansa

The Club of Opportunities

PDF

"Each episode of The Club (i.e. exhibition) introduces new characters and plot twists. Each exhibition creates a situations which hover between reality and fiction, where the narrative is gradually revealed through video, various objects, and ongoing live action.  Through mixed genres, from drama to absurdity, The Club thematise archetypal social topics and gradually uncovers the anatomy of mythology and storytelling. The main protagonist is the overlooked vegetable - Celeriac.

Club of Opportunities reflects upon strategies of dark-side influencers, posing questions of hierarchical relationships and authority. In the context of vegetable hierarchy Celeriac finds itself on very low position. In the supermarkets we can find Celeriac roots situated on the bottom shelves, Avocados are always highlighted in the center. Over the course of the past six episodes, low forms elevate in status into the high ones and vice versa. Somewhere during that transformation, new opportunities were created.

The main storyteller is Kami Nábělek, a fairly eccentric philosopher who makes live appearances at The Club’s openings and then on occasion during the run of the shows. He delivers speeches full of scientific and pseudoscientific concepts and reveals key moments in the current story."

Season 1:
PAF Pioneer Works


Episode 6:
Ten Years Night


Episode 5:
Keeping in Line


Episode 4:
Britannica Bootcamp


Episode 3:
My name is Red Herring


Episode 2:
April showers bring May flowers


Episode 1:
Bowling Bar

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 6:
Ten Years Night

Jakub Jansa
Jakub Jansa

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(video)

Episode 5:
Keeping in Line

► Play Video

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 5:
Keeping in Line

Jakub Jansa
Jakub Jansa
Jakub Jansa

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 4:
Britannica Bootcamp

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(video)

Episode 4:
Britannica Bootcamp

► Play Video

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 3:
My name is Red Herring

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(video)

Episode 3:
My name is Red Herring

► Play Video

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 2:
April showers bring May flowers

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(video)

Episode 2:
April showers bring May flowers

► Play Video

CLUB OF OPPORTUNITIES
(pdf document)

Episode 1:
Bowling Bar

SPIRITUAL FITNESS
(pdf document)

PDF

BETTER IDEAS FOR LIFE
(pdf document)

PDF

NAME OF THE PROJECT IS PROJECT ITSELF
(pdf document)

PDF

Index
2024 2011