Esterhazy Palace, 1st Floor
December 14, 2012 - March 31, 2013
Curator: Dušan Buran

The ambition of the concisely-titled BLOOD exhibition is to present a unique (at least on the Slovak scene) trans-historic curatorial project. On one hand, its central cultural category is related to the human body, and therefore to life (or death), on the other hand, it is the subject of various literary, religious and social projections. Thus, just as it is impossible to imagine a living organism without blood, so the metaphors of blood – its ‘cultural’ functions – in their own turn formed the man’s view of not only himself and his environment, but oftentimes also of that which transcends him. That is also the reason why almost all major religions thematised their relation to blood so-to-speak explicitly.

Nevertheless, even for a secular culture, blood was never merely a biological, medical or gastronomic issue. Expressions and collocations such as ‘blood revenge’, ‘blood ties’, ‘blue blood’, but also ‘bloodthirsty’, ‘blood thickened in his veins’ – these all express quite well the relationship of society to blood. For us, they offer the primary potential for developing an engaging contemplation of blood’s visual capacity (and its metaphors) ranging from the 14th century all the way to the present day.

The visual culture not only responded to the mentioned phenomena (as well as to numerous taboos related to blood), but it actually often created and/or actively formed them throughout the history of art. However, the presented project does not chart systematically all of the historic representations of blood in fine arts. From the plethora of options, it selects only certain elements, offering them to the gallery visitors for discussion, or just simple observation. Significant portion of the exhibited artefacts come from the SNG collections (Old Art Collection, Graphics, Drawings, 20th Century Classical Modern Art) and the Slovak National Archive; but SNG will also request to borrow several items from regional galleries, museums, and libraries across Slovakia; while considerable space will also be devoted to privately held artwork, or lent directly by authors from Slovakia or abroad.

The exhibition itself will create opportunity for a rich accompanying programme. In early 2013, blood will also become the topic of a film cycle (vampires & Bathory), discussions and lectures by leading haematologists, ethnographers and historians. Art historians and literature lovers will be able to find something for themselves, too.