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Roman Ondak: Time Capsule

17. December 2020 — 31. December 2021
Schaubmarov Mlyn v Pezinku, Pezinok-Cajla

The 2011 Time Capsule expands the Slovak National Gallery collection of the works of today already world-renowned artist Roman Ondak by a monumental installation. The new acquisition fundamentally widens the conceptual art collection and the after 1960s installations in SNG and joins to the previously acquired works of the author - Hunger (1996), Anonymous Room (1996), Sated Table (1997), Retrospective (2005).

Although we count with Time Capsule within permanent expositions in the new SNG building in Bratislava, due to its topicality and ability to inspire we present it in advance within the premises of the Schaubmar Mill in Pezinok. You will be able to see and experience it for free from 17 December 2020 to June 2021.

Ondak made the installation Time Capsule together with a performance and a video Stampede for an exhibition in the Modern Art Oxford. The creation of the capsule was inspired by a real event in the copper and gold mine Mina San José in Chile. A gas explosion on 5 August, 2010 caused a filling of a spiral shaft of the more than a century-old mine. Before the collapse of the rock walls, one of the two groups of miners had not had time to escape and was left trapped in a small shelter in the 700 metres depth. The 69-day rescue of the 33 miners dependent on hard discipline was followed by millions of people all over the world. It was no sooner than the eighth trial drill on August 22 that they finally reached the depth close to the shelter. The miners tied a note to the probe with today an already famous message: "Estamos bien en el refugio los 33." (We are fine in the shelter, the 33 of us.) Later, they were all transported to the surface thanks to a rescue capsule. The extreme experience has change each of the thirty-three men in a different way.

"I reacted to a real story of a mining accident. I was fascinated by the rescue process which brought together several significant world scientific and technical personalities, Chilean state forces, and the American NASA, too. Together they developed a way to get the miners out of the sealed mine healthy. I also perceived the political context of the whole event and realised for example that those 33 human lives were rescued thanks to the interest of the media which the Chilean government used for its promotion. Viewing then exceeded even the broadcast from landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon. I felt great respect for the miners who were able to survive such a long time in the depth and dark of a small mining shelter both in physical and mental health", explains Roman Ondak.

"However, it was not only about telling their story, but also about capturing, transmitting, and preserving a certain time-space section. Therefore, I named the replica of the Phoenix 2, painted by the colours and motifs of the Chilean flag, Time Capsule. The object has a rocket shape, but it is its opposite - it is a case for one person descending underground. I wanted to get the viewers acquainted with something very distant and physically materialise something that they knew only indirectly", explains the author

Ondak made the capsule replica in Slovakia in the real scale based on technical plans from Chile, as an object which is a 3D imprint of the real event. Apart from the very object, the artworks are also the ideas which it bears, and the atmosphere that it creates. The strongest motif of the installation is the power of humanism and solidarity in the worst times as well.

The SNG could have acquired the work thanks to a Tatra Banka gift.

Roman Ondak

(*1966, Žilina)

Within his work he uses the phenomenon of time and conceptual shifts of facts and context into original situations, often discreetly and at unexpected places. Any object or event can become part of his artistic statement. Through minimum possible means he provokes a play with attention, intellect, and emotions of viewers when turning true events into new reality. Ondak's conceptual art works with human desire for hidden wonders and enables its surprising fulfilment.

During his career, the author participated at prestigious international art shows documenta 13 in Kassel (2012) and the 50th and 54th Venice Biennale (2003 and 2011), where he also had a solo exhibition in the Czech and Slovak Republic pavilion in 2009. A number of articles, essays, texts in exhibition catalogues, scientific texts, and several monographic publications have been published about his work, mostly in the English language. He has cooperated with many significant galleries and curators. His works are represented in the most prestigious world institutions and collections. He has had solo exhibitions for example in Kunstverein in Cologne, the Tate Modern in London, the MoMA in New York, and at the 53th Venice Biennale. He lives and works in Bratislava.

Depending on the evolution of the epidemiologic situation, we are preparing various accompanying events, about which we shall keep you informed at


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