Rudolf Samohejl

In Search of Garden of Pursuits, 2017 / 2022, series of photograms

📍 Venue → Hospital

Rudolf Samohejl is a visual artist who works in various media including sculpture, performance, video, and drawing. His long-term interest in public monuments as aggregates for data collection brought the artist to an investigation of an often overlooked monument to the traveler, gardener, and botanist Benedict Roezl (1824–1885). In the monument, erected in 1898 on the southern part of Prague’s Charles Square, the figure of the botanist, holding an orchid and a book, is accompanied by a figure of an indigenous man holding a machete, possibly representing Central and South America, from where Roezl brought to Europe over eight hundred species of orchids. The mid-nineteenth-century craze for orchid collecting was concurrent with the popularization of photography, particularly photograms—camera-less photographs used both as an introduction into analogue photography and for scientific illustration of botanical specimens due to their direct imprint. The installation consists of a grid of photograms made on site in the remains of the Amazonian rainforest in Antioquia Department in Colombia, the closest wilderness areas to Roezl’s approximate journeys near the river Magdalena. Dark, overexposed, and thus failed, the images show the impossibility of adequately representing the natural environment from which Roezl extracted the orchids.

Rudolf Samohejl (*1987) lives and works between Prague, Czech Republic, and Brussels, Belgium. He graduated from the Academy of Art, Architecture & Design in Prague in 2014. Samohejl classifies his works as “sculptural situations.” As opposed to installations, his works are more experiences than presentations, drawing their strength from an active audience and oftentimes incorporating audience interaction. The core of Samohejl’s current work can be found in the human obsession with an abstract future and the obsessive desire to project itself onto this imagined existence. Samohejl’s work has been exhibited in the Czech Republic and abroad since 2010. He received the 2015 Jan Naaijkens Prize in the Netherlands and was a finalist for the ESSL Art Award in 2013. Samohejl has completed residencies at such institutions as Cité Internacionale des Art (Paris, France), Art-Port Tel Aviv (Israel), AIR Sandnes (Norway), Flow East Art Hub Prague and INI Project (Prague, Czech Republic), Space Called Place (Krakow, Poland) and the Egon Schiele Art Center (Český Krumlov, Czech Republic). 

Installation view (c) Jonáš Verešpej