Michaela Lakova

artistiek onderzoek - audiovisueel - installatie - film - media

Michaela Lakova (1987) is a visual artist and researcher based in Rotterdam. In her work she explores digital traces, the notion of erasure and memory and how they impact our perception of ownership. Through her works she challenges the slippery nature of digital memory over the immateriality of human memory. Her practice includes a diverse range of media: video, prints, found objects, web / screen based and installations.

Michaela occasionally works as a videographer in the cultural sector in the Netherlands and abroad. She worked for Het Nieuwe Instituut, Piet Zwart Institute, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (BFMAF, UK), Kunsthal Rotterdam, Unseen and Goethe-Institut, Amsterdam among others.


Altered Voices (ongoing)
Der Bien und der Garten (2021) - a film by Amy Pickles, Michaela Lakova and Bérénice Staiger; excerpt; full duration:10:35min; digital and analogue; German w/t English subtitles; The film follows the artist and beekeeper Bérénice Staiger, whose art and apiarist practices intertwine systems of care and attention. The camera oscillates between the choreographies of Bérénice, and fellow beekeeper Sophie Pauwels – observing, inspecting, maintaining, harvesting, almost as a self-reflection, these gestures also mimicking the actions of the bees in the hive.
Earth Rebels (2021) - is an anthropological and artistic research into the indigenous Tzotzil carnival in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico combined with the sacral rituals of kukeri in and Shiroka Laka, Rhodope mountains, Bulgaria. What might be the commonalities between those two cultures dating back before the Spanish and Ottoman invasions? The artist takes her own journey into the depths of the spiritual self with its complex cultural and historical preconditions in order to open a dialogue about our collective memory.
Cold Storage (Revisited) - Enlarged photographs of common data storage devices are placed at the exhibition space along with four glass cubes, which create an optical illusion of disappearance of the circuit boards depicted in the photographs. While stored digital data might seem ephemeral or intangible, it does in fact have a physical presence in the real world. Cold Storage investigates the architectural dimensions of our storage devices and how they are translated into the physical world. The work proposes a poetic overview of the material quality of memory asking what is the future of digital storage: “a glass cold memory which lasts forever” or imperfect storage technology that can decay?
Article17 (2019) - An online poem based on Michaela’s ongoing research into the Right to erasure (also known as the Right to be forgotten) – a legislation allowing individuals to request search engines to delist their personal data. Lakova uses the official language of Article 17, part of General Data Protection Regulation( GDPR) accepted in May 2018 which introduces a new set of rules and regulations which aim to control how private companies collect, store, and use personal data. However this legislation remains difficult to comprehend outside of the world of law enforcement. With Article17, developed during her residency at x-temporary.org, Lakova is interested in ‘translating’ this rather complex text and set of definitions which ultimately enables the viewer to experience a new form of ‘uneasy’ reading.
Past-Present: Utopian dream for a nu(un)clear future (2018) - is a result of Michaela’s research into nuclear power and the unfinished second nuclear power plant in Belene, Bulgaria. The video depicts a surrealist artistic intervention/ performance and a series of direct encounters with the security guards at the Belene construction site. It attempts to raise some serious questions about the current political status quo. What is the future of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)? A promise? Is the nuclear power plant, a construction site dating back to 1987, a means to cheaper nuclear power, providing an export and economic prosperity to the region or is it just another corruption deal? The Belene NPP is rather a multi-layered political game which involves foreign interests and influence. Proven to be an uneconomic and an environmentally unfriendly project, it has already cost billions of euros worth in construction and equipment – a project frozen in time.
A manuscript of erasure (2017) - Immersive video, which explores themes of memory, absence and presence; what’s to be forgotten and/or remembered oscillating between city landscapes and an unknown desert located in the Middle East. The video depicts a larger question of how history operates and its complex apparatus of being erased and then reinvented again.
Memories of Slavutych - It’s an episode still outside our culture. Too traumatic for our culture. And our only answer is silence. We just close our eyes, like little children, and think we can hide. Something from the future is peeking out and it’s just too big for our minds. Too huge for us to handle. – Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future by Svetlana Alexievich. Memories of Slavutych (2018) is a spacial sound installation composed of different field recordings which Michaela collected during her residency in Slavutych, Ukraine. This project is a result of her research into nuclear power, the Chernobyl accident and the notion of memory. From everyday life soundscapes recorded in Slavutych to Julia’s narrative voice during an obscure trip to the Exclusion Zone, all resonate under a white ribbon inviting the passersby to listen.
Generative koplet (Revisited) - This video shows the behind-the-scenes of the data recovery process. Lakova positioned herself at the center, placing a hard disk into a SATA hard drive case and then she ran on the recovery software documenting every step of hers. The soundtrack of the video is the slightly distorted sound from a powered up and spinning hard disk.
Delete?No, Wait!Rewind (2014) - is an interactive installation which recovers images from hard drives without the consent or the knowledge of the previous owners, who presume their content has been deleted forever. The audience is prompted to choose whether to delete a recovered file or save it by publishing it online. Whether our storage devices are locally present (hard drives) or dislocated (the cloud), can we ever be certain our data has been deleted permanently? In an ongoing conversation about the impossibility of erasing digital traces, what role do we play? Are we plunderers, interpreters or mediators?