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The heart of a giraffe in captivity is twelve kilos lighter

Eva Kotátková, from the series “Lenka (Unlearning Instinct),” 2023. Mixed media on paper. Courtesy of Hunt Kastner, Prague.


Eva Koťátková

Press release

Eva Koťátková’s collaborative project The Heart of a Giraffe in Captivity is Twelve Kilograms Lighter will represent the Czech Republic at the world’s most prestigious art show this year. The installation will be put together in collaboration with curator Hana Janečková, as well as artist and composer Himali Singh Soin, composer David Tappeser, and collectives of children and seniors who have contributed their stories. Koťátková, one of the most internationally renowned Czech artists, will return to Venice after eleven years. In 2013, she presented her work at the Biennale’s main pavilion.
The Heart of a Giraffe in Captivity is Twelve Kilograms Lighter relates the story of a real giraffe named Lenka, brought to Prague in 1954 from Kenya as the first giraffe in a Czechoslovak zoo. This theme is used to explore the ways in which we encounter, look at, and learn about animals and to denounce the hierarchies, violence, and exploitation of nature that are often part of these processes. The project revives Lenka’s story through a transformative educational art installation and proposes new ways of relating to animals and of reinventing the connections between human institutions and the natural world. To interpret Lenka’s story, Koťátková collaborated with children’s and seniors’ collectives across the Czech Republic and abroad, as well as with the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective, which imbues the project with principles of decolonial pedagogy. Their voices alongside the installation create a collective body as a place of collaboration and sharing based on emotions, experiences and relationships.

Slovakia will be represented by an installation by Ota Hudec, situated on the outer shell of the pavilion and in its surroundings, prepared in collaboration with the Slovak National Gallery and curator Lydia Pribyšová.

Commissioner: Michal Novotný, National Gallery of Prague
Curator: Hana Janečková