Four questions for Jaro Varga

Interview by Frantisek Zachoval.

Jaro, you made a curatorial trip to Bucharest in April 2016 and gave a lecture at Unagaleria. What was the output of your visit?

The lecture at Unagaleria was focused on the expanded role of artist, inspired by my own situation as both an artist and a curator in parallel. My research trip to the city was initiated by the Czech Centre, and it has enabled me to present a number of Romanian artists in Prague and Berlin. Upon learning more about the work of Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan, for example, I exhibited a project of theirs in the Berlin show ‘Dreams and Dramas. Law as Literature’, and also hosted them at Prague’s MeetFactory as artists in residence. I very clearly remember having coffee with Anca and Arnold here in Bucharest, talking about their work, having similar thoughts, feeling inspired.

‘Dreams and Dramas. Law as Literature’ / NGBK Berlin / curated by Agnieszka Kilian and Jaro Varga / exhibition view – Anca Benera & Arnold Estefan 2017

Your curatorial work mirrors your art practice. This entails the fusion or combination of serious forms of research, whose meaning is thus transformed. Might it be said that you are adjusting the viewer’s perspective?

I have always ‘played’ with these [two] roles [those of artist and curator]. The border is very liquid, and my curatorial work is connected to my art practice. My curatorial projects are each platforms for dialogues about topics I am interested in. As curator, I take a more political position; as artist, I prefer a poetical one. Curating at MeetFactory and Hit Gallery gave me the chance to spend ‘a million hours’ with artists who are having same dilemmas about art and life as me.

Your recent exhibition ‘In Someone’s Else Dream’ focuses on the sociological aspects of knowledge represented in book form, which (the book) is basically one of your working tools What actually is the book for you?


In Someone’s Else Dream / Jaro Varga / Soda Gallery 2017 (exhibition view) foto: Adam Šakový

In your solo Bucharest exhibition ‘Missing Something and Itself Missing’, you are working with real and archetypal images. Could you briefly reveal your recent concept?

‘Missing Something and Itself Missing’ is in fact a continuation and development of the previous show of mine that you mentioned, ‘In Someone’s Else Dream’. I am getting closer and closer to myself, which, for me, means getting closer to understanding the structure and mechanism of my thinking: gaining knowledge, making decisions, and at the same time not understanding; missing, erasing, cutting, replacing. The show at Ivan Gallery is my subjective view on the image of power—of knowledge, armies, wars, politics, histories, legends, cities, libraries, books, schools, forests and borders—through the image of the father. It is a surgery of essential reason: a bypass, or even a transplant.

Open reception at Ivan Gallery, photo by Diana Ursan.

Jaro Varga is an artist and curator. In 2007, he cofounded and curated the artist-run gallery HIT in Bratislava, and between 2015 and 2016 was active as the main curator at MeetFactory Gallery in Prague. His works have recently been exhibited at The 8th Floor Gallery in NYC, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Wroclaw, Kunsthalle Košice, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin, the Prague Biennale and Secession in Vienna.