a l a n a j e l i n e k
a b o u t
europe the game played in alba la romaine

 painting         performance  
          participatory         site-specific intervention
web-based        writing              

art as philosophical praxis
praxis : theory into practice into theory

A bit of contextual info:

I've been asked about the range of my artwork. Not only do I use a wide range of media including performance, participatory, novel writing, painting, site-specific interventions and film, but I explore a wide range of seemingly unrelated subjects. For me, they're not unrelated but, it is true, for an artistic practice, it is a wide and relatively disparate range of interests.

This is a brief attempt at an overarching theme:

Art, for me, is a philosophical praxis. What I mean by this is that for me art is a philosophical enquiry using materiality to explore, interrogate and enact ideas. All of my work explores mechanisms of power and an individual's relationship to these. This includes the historical colonial past, with its legacies in the present and the present within neoliberalism.

Over the years my work can be broadly categorised into themes, which sometimes interleave:
late 1990s-2005 - the tourist gaze, 1999-ongoing colonialism and post-colonialism, 2005-2012 neoliberalism and neocolonialism.
I choose the medium that best explores an idea. I was trained as a painter (1987-90) so I've been drawn to the language and implications of oil paint: the medium of oil paint as motif for traditional power structures, but I also have a deep ambivalence towards stuff, making yet more stuff in a world with too much stuff in it and perhaps with too great a preoccupation with stuff. So I am drawn to types of practice that avoid this problem - ephemera, giving away stuff, performance, or sharing in participatory events. But I also like making stuff.
A bit of biog info:

Born Melbourne Australia, 1968

Visual Art Exhibitions across England, Australia, France, Japan, and Bangkok, Thailand; Poznan, Poland; Moscow, Russia; Dniepropretrovsk, Ukraine.

Curating, art project management and exhibition design for various institutions since 1997. Co-founded terra incognita arts organisation 1997

Fiction (novels) and non-fiction (journal articles and a monographs) publications

Education work since 1993, including schools, museums and galleries (including Tate Modern 2000-2004), further and higher education (including Oxford Brookes University and Cambridge University).

European Research Council (ERC) artist in residence 'Pacific Prescences', Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge
and Associate Researcher with Volkenkunde Museum Leiden, Netherlands.

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Creative Fellow, Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Cambridge

2004-2008 PhD
Oxford Brookes University
50:50 History of Art: Fine Art Practice
'Art as a democratic act: the interplay of context and content in contemporary art'
AHRC award

1992-4 MA (Gender, Society, Culture)
Birkbeck College, University of London 

1987-90 BA (Fine Art - Painting)
Victoria College, Prahran, Melbourne, Australia with modules in Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science, History of Art, University of Melbourne

Formerly, www.alanajelinek.com was exclusively used as the portal for artwork:
a   d i a r y   o f   r a c i s m
me - you - them (2001-2004)
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2013 - 2018
ERC artist-in-residence for 'Pacific Presences' with Principal Investigator, Prof Nicholas Thomas, with Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge
european research council logo

Co-founder terra incognita arts organisation

AHRC research fellowship artworks and writing:

2013 Publication
This is not art: activism and other not-art
IB Tauris

2013 Publication
The Fork's Tale, as narrated by Itself
a novel,  narrated from the point of view of a cannibal fork in the museum's collection, with drawings, published on a monthly basis throughout 2013.

25 May 2012 - January 2013
Tall Stories: Cannibal Forks (2012)
As part of 'Gifts & Discoveries' temporary exhibition at Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

2 November 2012
Participatory live artwork
'Not Praising, Burying'
Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, 2012

Participatory live artwork
'Cannibal Forking - an experiment in distributed protocol'
25 September 2010 at 'The Field', Essex
Chinese University Hong Kong, 12 November 2010
Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 29 October 2011
The Project Space, London 'again : on repetition an informal symposium on repetition in practice', 28 November 2011
Bodger's Ball 2012, nr Axminster, Devon, 12 May 2012

15 September 2010 - October 31 2010
Tall Stories: Cannibal Forks (2010)
as intervention into then current Fiji display

23 October 2009 - March 2010
BLACCXN sponsorship intervention into Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology:
'The Archaeological Story according to BLACCXN

link to terra incognita website for more - here

site-specific interventions
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censorship log*
in ascending chronological order (earliest first)

Censorship is one of the many mechanisms of power, which is why I have recorded a log of censorship since the very beginning of my career as an artist. Not all of the instances listed here would be considered censorship by everyone but I understood each as censorship at the time.
Censorship operates differently 
in the arts in a market democracy as compared to how it operates in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Nevertheless, I argue, that it is indeed the case that censorship - and increasingly self-censorship - is pervasive in the contemporary London artworld. 

1989 - expelled from art college for taking courses in philosophy and history & philosophy of science. Allowed to return on proviso that these subjects are dropped.
Understood as censorship at the time by me, and not simply the ordinary operations of the artworld expelling the then-unacceptable forms of not-art.

1994 - satirical Russian Orthodox style 'icon' of Lenin with Marx stolen from exhibition at Hall  of Architects, Moscow (destroyed?). 

2000 - defaced life-sized tourist figure intervention at Grizedale, plus other attempts at moving or destroying similar tourist figure interventions across the Lake District

2000 - Attempts made by staff of the Australian High Commission, London, to silence and end our very small intervention for 'Racist Australia Day', calling the police on three separate occasions, ending with the riot police.
There were 2 of us, flowers and leaflets one early morning ending at 11am.

2001 - Writing for a Teacher's Kit for Tate Modern's 'Century City' exhibition, sponsored by CGNU (now Aviva), where the ambivalent (though not entirely negative) tone regarding globalisation was altered without my consent and changed to a wholly positive one.

2004 - While pacing out the area of Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, to measure it for a future artwork, The Third Wing, there was a  constant presence by secret service agents, acting in the manner of store detectives. Very close up photography in my face by an undercover agent pretending to be a tourist.
Understood by me at the time as an attempt by security services to intimidate me into doing something different.

2005 - a series of interventions into the Jim Thompson House, Bangkok, which aimed at disrupting the easy 'tourist gaze' and self-styled authenticity of the museum were taken away 3 months before the end of the exhibition. All documentation of the intervention was also apparently destroyed or deleted.

2007 - engage: the journal for museum and gallery education refused to print a satirical essay about the artworld, gallery education and green-washing despite the issue on green matters being published at my suggestion.
Understood by me at the time as the inability of the artworld to bear critique of its own institutions and assumptions.

2007-9 - tampering by unknown person or persons of the parodic website for the fictional transnational corporation, BLACCXN. Various links broken and redirected. This first began when the parody of prize culture with BLACCXN Prize for Culture was redirected to error pages. Continued occasional tampering of the rest of the site occured into 2009 with other redirections to error messages from all sorts of links including plans for the new wing on the Houses of Parliament, the BLACCXN House of Corporations. This seemed to stop when I changed hosts for the website.

2009 - During the placing of the paintings for 'Capital Growth', we were conspicuously filmed in close-up by a man from the MoD, despite the fact that I had alerted the police a few days earlier to the intervention, in order to avoid accusaitons of 'terrorism' or other contraventions of the new laws about protest within 1mile of the Houses of Parliament.
Understood by me at the time to be an attempt by security services to intimidate me into doing something different.

2009 - Beck's Beer, past sponsors of ICA's 'Beck's Futures' exhibitions - apparently 'one of the bolder art prizes' - censored art-intervention into open submission for 2-for-1 offer 'Do Something Different', refusing to include BLACCXN's offer to run seminars on 'How to be a Hedge Fund Manager'. The artwork was even billed as comedy to help frame the experience as ironic.
Understood by me at the time as the inability of the company to bear critique of market ideology or capitalism.

2013 - This one is so upsetting I equivocated at the time over posting it here. The perpetrator of this instance of censorship is an artist whose work I admire and he is from an historically subjugated people that continues to feel the brunt of racism. This fact makes this post different from all the others. Nevertheless, it is an instance of censorship and Jonathan Jones of Kamilaroi / Wiradjuri background is its source. He asked the museum, where my practice is currently located, to refuse me permission to write any fiction about any Australian Aboriginal artefact on the grounds that I am not known to him or certain elders. At the time I was writing about an encounter between a Fijian 'cannibal fork' and an Australian Aboriginal shield for a chapter of 'The Fork's Tale, as narrated by Itself', which was published by LemonMelon on a monthly basis throughout 2013. It is a novel written and drawn from the point of view of a C19th Fijian 'cannibal fork' in the museum's collection. Jonathan knew nothing of my artwork or my personal history but on the basis of a very troubled encounter based on misunderstanding, he decided to attempt this act of censorship. Luckily, a creative compromise was found between the museum and me with respect to this request, which can be seen in the relevant chapter.

2013 - Is it me or am I a touch paranoid? I gave an interview to the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) about This is Not Art on national radio. As expected, we talked for longer than the 20min interview that was aired but it did strike me as more than coincidence that the bits cut away from the interview were those comments that were most critical of markets and any discussion of the problems of neoliberalism.

2013 - Artquest offered me the opportunity to write an article critical of the workings of the artworld. It was stipulated that I must write anonymously. When I stated that I refuse to publish anonymously, but would, on this occasion, write anonymously as long as my subject was the problem of 'anonymity' in the artworld and elsewhere, they refused on the grounds that the journal was 'not about anonymity'. The invitation to contribute anything was withdrawn. 
Understood by me at the time as the inability of the artworld to bear critique of its own institutions and assumptions.