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At the exhibition From Fat and the City, Ana de Almeida presents a new work based on her long-term artistic interest. The installation summarizes the research she undertook in Ústí nad Labem during her summer residence. It is a series of handmade soaps numbering one hundred pieces, in which the original archive material used in the former factory of the Schicht Plant, later North Bohemian Fat Plant (Setuza) is preserved. Ana is one of the artists who relates to the artistic strategy of the archival impulse as defined by Hal Foster in 2004. Such work of art uses archival material as a presentation of historical information.

An important aspect of this work is also the reinterpretation and completion of "great histories". Ana de Almeida, one generation away artists with extensive theoretical knowledge, shifts this thinking to new perspectives. The most significant element of her artistic approach is the very destruction of archival material — cutting, deforming and fragmenting. At the same time, the materials are preserved in a durable form that changes their physical and chemical qualities — into blocks of glycerin, dyes and aromas — ie in soaps. In her theoretical thinking, Ana de Almeida also includes consideration of the archive as an instrument of power. For example, by archiving fragments of ordinary rubble from a building demolished in spoken industrial area, Almeida elevates them to important artifacts comparable to fragments of ancient temples or other archaeological finds. This is related to the historical and social change that is Central European society currently experiencing — a post-industrial turning point in which we perceive a fundamental change in production, labor, consumerism and other aspects.

The factory in Střekov district has been influencing the structure of the city and the quality of its inhabitants lives for over a hundred years both, in positive and negative way. Its founder, industrialist Johann Schicht and his descendants built civic amenities in the city — a polyclinic, a spa, a nursery, a library and residential houses for their employees. Industrial progress was moving forewards fast as well as the working conditions at that time. After the nationalization of the company, the production continued, a large number of newly settled population got employed there. The national company Setuza also united its employees and enabled them to carry out a "superstructure", especially during the events of the Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (ROH), which included the organization of International Women's Day, St. Nicholas' holiday or children's camps. ROH provided and approved, for example, the operation of the amateur theater association Severotuk, later the successful Small Theater. After the privatization of the company in the 1990s, the operation gradually ceased to exist, yet almost up until now it caused an ecological burden to the city imprinted into the air quality.

The industrial production of fruit juices, soaps, toothpastes and edible fats extends far beyond the city limits. Kernel oil, which is one of the main components of hygienic products, was imported to Ústí nad Labem mainly via the Netherlands from colonized countries. Cultivation of this raw material means for local economics and the ecological and social structures a heavy load of global significance. Against the backdrop of political and technological changes and declining production, we are therefore currently returning to thinking about ecological sustainability, domestic economy and overall impact of industrial production on the shape of society. The artist Ana de Almeida incorporated these circumstances into her artwork by choosing the archival material. A fundamental inversion can be found in the work — the soaps were produced inside the factory in Střekov (the main production item). However, Ana de Almeida presents the factory in artifacts with all its social, architectural and historical aspects inside soaps. The main active elements incorporated in soaps are pictorial materials — photographs from annual reports, stills from film archive materials, original advertisements and other printed materials related to product marketing, as well as material artifacts — industrial products itselfs, copies of Schicht's cookbook, original souvenirs, original grease for production and the already mentioned rubble from the demolished building,.
The work exhibited at the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts could be viewed through the prism of other theoretical and artistic approaches as well — it encodes gender issues, environmental and postcolonial tendencies and other aspects that can be included under critical theories.


Text: Barbora Hájková
M.2, 2021
Ed.3

Active ingredient:
Schicht plant and landscape / cca. 1920s / copy / source: Muzeum města Ústí nad Labem
Peeling:
medium sized brick fragments from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Jujube

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials
(2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
From Fat and the City / Z tuku a města, installation view,
House of Arts Ústí nad Labem (2021 CZ)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.2, 2021
Ed.3
Active ingredient:
Schicht plant and landscape / cca. 1920s / copy / source: Muzeum města Ústí nad Labem
Peeling:
medium sized brick fragments from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Jujube

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.71, 2021
Ed.3
Active ingredient:
Selected toilet soap Grapefruit, original package and soap produced in Setuza a.s., Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Honey

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.5, 2021
Ed.2
Active ingredient:
Schicht plant premises / cca. 1930s / copy / source: Muzeum města Ústí nad Labem
Peeling:
medium sized brick fragments from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Wheat


Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.3, 2021
Ed.2
Active ingredient:
Housing colony for Schicht plant workers: perspective drawing / 1921 / copy / source: Muzeum města Ústí nad Labem
Peeling:
rubber fragments from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Honey

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.69, 2021
Ed.1
Active ingredient:
Metal plate "306" / original
Peeling:
Small sized brick fragments from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma:
Caramel

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Filip Trubač
M.75, 2021
Ed.3
Active ingredient:
Original fat from the demolished Setuza factory in Ústí nad Labem
Aroma: soft apple

Glycerin, pigment, aroma and mixed materials (2,5 x 5,2 X 7,8 cm)
Photo: Ana de Almeida
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2021 | From Fat and the City
Supported by:
2019 | The Collective Archive III
2020 | NOVA
2017 | Untitled Yellow
2018 | A Casa