Emília Rigová


gandy gallery

Icons of the Peripheral

Exhibition: December 12, 2019 - February 22, 2019


Gandy gallery is pleased to announce the opening of the first solo show of a Slovak artist EMÍLIA RIGOVÁ, this year's winner of Oskar Čepan Award.


For the work Icons of the Peripheral (2014), I created life-size face-in-the hole boards which represented Roma people in their home setting. The photos were taken in the Roma settlement in Czarna Gora, Poland. I installed these photo-objects in main squares of various towns and cities. In this project, I worked with the visual archetype of Roma and presented it as a cut out, the familiar object used as a fairground attraction, whereby the Roma becomes a pop icon. With these objects, I recreated a fairground setting in which people could “become a Roma” for the moment the picture is taken. My aim was to point out that we have no power over the circumstances of our life into which we have been born, and ask the viewer: would you like to be Roma?

In this work, the author addresses the stereotypical representations of the Roma which essentialize Romani people as a homogeneous backward group attributing them a range of negative characteristics and/or objectify them as objects of sexual desire. Thus, this double self-portrait is a declaratory act of stripping oneself of this externally ascribed attributes and presenting oneself as an individual aware of her power to shape her own life and also the lives of future generations. The right side of the self-portrait, i.e. the authentic self, representing her as an individual endowed with agency, is contrasted with the schematic representation of the prototypical Romani woman on the left, however, as the warm gesture suggests, the author is not inimical to this “tradition” (or more precisely to the past lived experience of her ancestors and the Romani people in general), she just refuses to be limited by it, especially if the limitations are set from the outside.

Nikola Ludlová, historian
Photos taken by Petra Kelement Áčová
Dress from Museum of Romani Culture, Brno, CZ

EMÍLIA RIGOVÁ (born 1980) is a visual artist coming from the Slovak Republic. In addition to her artistic practice, she teaches art courses (object, multi-media, inter-media) at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. For Rigová, an object in the form of an installation, as a performance or a site-specific intervention is a basic element of her art language. Furthermore, she expresses herself through 2D interface of a computer graphics, informed by the fundaments of the classical painting. Concerning the content of her work, she explores emotions modified by a specific socio-cultural environment. The main themes of her works are cultural or social stereotypes, alter ego, Romani identity, and psychological shadows. She had exhibitions in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. In 2018 she won the Oskár Čepan Award for visual artists. 

Emília Rigová - CV
Emília Rigová - List of works

Icons of the Peripheral, 2014/2018
Colour digital photography

Courtesy Gandy gallery