Magda Tóthová (SK): The Word for This Place Is not Utopia

Three-part video installation, 2012

The Word for This Place Is not Utopia by Magda Tothova is composed of a three-part video installation, created during the artist’s residency in Upper Silesia and the Dąbrowski Basin in May and August 2012, when she worked with the local youth. In the first film, in a space of devastated buildings the young protagonists try to share answers to seemingly typical questions, often posed to young people when they are being socialized: Who would they like to be in the future? What would their lives be like? The second film shows activities centered around word games inspired by the futurological texts of Stanisław Lem. Based on words that characterize their present lives, the young people create neologisms to indicate imaginary phenomena or machines that could change or improve their situations. The third part of the film provides no response to the questions posed earlier. The action takes place in a post-industrial space – an abandoned cement factory, a symbol of lost wealth, degradation, and decay. The space of Upper Silesia and the Dąbrowski Basin, where Magda Tothova’s films were made, and where the film’s protagonists live, is undergoing the violent transformation often found in places that were once mined for raw materials. The industrial project has been replaced with information processing services. At the same time, the space itself, along with its cultural baggage, is an open project. The artist’s work brings together the young and innocent, in a way, with the crippled and destroyed, marred by disappointments in reality and an uncertainty toward tomorrow. The two first parts of the video installation show an instinctively tangible anxiety toward the future. We see a wish to change the speed of life’s rhythm and the pace of growth in the world, a desire characteristic of many places in the globalized world of liquid modernity. In Part Three, the young protagonists hide in the post-industrial ruins of the world, where the conditions of existence have altered. They remain alone with their desires for change. (Stanislaw Ruksza)


Magda Tóthová (1979, SK) lives and works in Vienna. Her work revolves around modern utopias, constructed norms, social models and their failures, how to address personal and social issues in the private and the political field. Borrowing heavily from fairy tales and science fiction, she is interested in the formation of myths or the essentialism underlying the concept of chance. Tothova received a MA from the University of Applied Arts Vienna and previously studied at the School for Artistic Photography Vienna (F. Kubelka) and was a visiting student at Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and the USA, most recently: Adds Donna, Chicago (2013), HDLU Zagreb (2013), Europe House, Tbilisi (2012), Bytom, Poland (2012), Sculpturegarden, Strombad Kritzendorf, Klosterneuburg (2012), Project Artspace, New York (2012), and Sofia City Art Gallery, Sofia (2012). She has been an artist-in-residence in London, Copenhagen, and most recently in Chicago.