In the given circumstances, the atmosphere of the Czech artistic scene does not differ from anything happening elsewhere. The difference between the younger and the youngest generation of artists is based on the ability to understand a specific situation correctly and to take advantage of the existing possibilities. There are a lot of conditions and rules to observe, so the ability to organize things is crucial. Artists do not perceive art as an existential Romantic-like activity but as a system of closely interconnected activities which together create something that accepts the given rules but mainly just with the reason of transforming these rules into something that is new-art.
The numbers of students is growing with each year and that is why it becomes more difficult to influence the course of action from official positions. In such a situation the search for alternative ways of self-expression provides another possibility for free creativity. Therefore, the need of public-art and site specific galleries seems clear. They are here to enable something to be created, to be seen-heard-felt. Projects of that kind have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. From that point of view, the idea that imagination cannot be restricted proves to be right. As a result, art can be found in places where one would hardly expect to come across it. The duration of such projects depends on the terms of running a particular place. Therefore, everything gains a nearly organic sense of creation and destruction. Although the vegetation chain transferred into the urban environment brings quite different rules; the rights of the stronger are predominant on this level as well. Anything lacking his/her own self-defence mechanism can be shattered by the force which overproduces everything (including art) and beats in the night-day rhythm of contemporary urban civilization. What I have seen today, I will certainly not see tomorrow.
It seems natural that such places, like empty and vacant shopping windows, tend to be popular among artists. They are more willing to participate in projects located on highly frequented public places. The common question is how to make use of these places. The answer could be structured as a quadrangle: artist-place-curator-viewer. Each of the four corners has specific requirements and the rule that compromise does not mean solution in art applies only to such art activities which are solely illegal and based on this rule. In other cases it is necessary to participate in meetings patiently, to persuade and agree with the owner’s or manager’s requirements. It is necessary to cope with tendencies to suppress art from the priority list of the public with intelligence and humour.
Projektplus– was founded in 2010 with the aim to search for places with a potential to develop individual artists’ themes and therefore to create a model space which would test the relationship between the imaginary and cognitive abilities of man in a frame of experimental didactic ‘game’.
The need of being active surfaces from the earlier interventions, such as Culture shadow in 2006, at the Vltavska station, where the black fly-posting zone was oversized with gigantic dimensions.
PP creates a small network that includes two train stations and an old display with sheet metal roller shutter. Occasional events taking place in the main hall of the railway station Prague- Holešovice show us that this space has been operating for some time. It contains several rollers which are used to carry information on the train timetables. This space lies in a narrow transit corridor on the right side of the railway station and is open 24 h/day. The rollers are placed in show cases and each roller cover is 87 cm high and 110 cm wide. The space is available for artists for free; the partner hereto is České dráhy a.s.
Several young artists have been asked to contribute to that project. The basic idea is to find a solution in relation to the place and to interpret that solution clearly to others.
The ideals started collapsing as soon as the first exhibition took place. The official reason for that was raising public awareness.
The exhibition lasted two hours, while most of that time was spent on the installation. The exhibiting artist, Bára Bálková, specializes in staged photography and prepared a series of political leaflets where the political parties’ advertisements pictured barely dressed girls. Good timing – just before general election. Fortunately, the worst scenario didn’t take place. We’re going on with it.
Daametus Aberus – each of his art pieces assassinates contemporary art…moreover, anybody passing by may be affected. This time the victim was his teacher, Kryštof Kintera, and the title of his exhibition “The bigger problems than yours”. It served as a ready-made model which was transformed through Daametus’s automat to dyslexic sequences firing short sentence constructions as well as individual sounds. No, you don’t have to be able to understand what’s going on. You’re standing in an empty station hall. Peace and quiet everywhere. There is a sound gradually emerging from the corner and growing with your attention until you move to look towards a hot-dog stand and then silence is restored.
Natsuko Ishikawa– the atmosphere of her older stories reminds of Neználek (an animated fairy-tale figure), sweet children solving something. Shame I cannot speak Japanese. There is something from the atmosphere of Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls. A very pleasant combination is created by the simple drawing and the tension of the stories. There are so many gender symbols in Natsuko’s work that it is kind of hard to write about it from my position. On the other hand, it’s a good opportunity to think deeper. Natsuko mentions pain that comes along with the full moon and gets bigger with age…. “Full moon” as described by Natsuko is about pain which is caused by the tendency to self-destruction and aggression coming from outside and insidiously affecting an innocent victim who then kills for love. When I imagine all those fierce looks and bars overcrowded with all sorts of unlucky people at the full moon night, it’s not a quite delightful feeling.
Tatjana Erpen uses silkscreen printing and drawing in her work. Therefore, it was a bit of a surprise when she suggested exhibiting a photography series which identifies the place based on the shape resemblance with tree trunks. However, what Tatjana perceived as more important than the resemblance in itself was the idea that we can read in a tree bark the same as we read timetables. The individual ability to read the given information correctly is crucial in this sense. One can get lost and found at a train station as well as in the wood.
Sangeun Won is studying animation at FAMU and the place inspired him to create his own animated screenplay – storyboard. The stories of three lonely people living next to each other demonstrate the possible- and thus sadder- reality of the present city life. All three live in the same house, work for the same company, and wait at the same bus stop every day. These three topics are repeated and told as stories in order to show three individual destinies. Everyday routine, dully repeating itself, was used as a generator of social neurosis, suicidal, and aggressive tendencies. Sangeun does not describe the schizophrenic states of his heroes in a psychological way. He uses exaggeration, personifies the schizophrenic human and lets the illness speak and act directly through the body of its victim. An important moment of the movie showing the borders of reality is loneliness and frequently repetitive (and drawn) sounds emerging from behind the walls of a flat or office that inevitably evoke “dizziness” and the desire to satisfy the second self…anyhow.
Matěj Smrkovský makes the process of creating new drawn record more complicated. In the case of the Holešovice railway station he didn’t feel pleased just with moving the rollers, so he also managed to capture the place as a whole. He carefully involved the exhibition’s visitors as well as the everyday running of the station in the course of action. The outcome was a participative shape operated by the author from the distance through a letter put in our contact mail box (so far we’ve received just a few cigarette stubs). The visitors were directed to the left luggage office where a suitcase containing 12 black sprays, gloves and 2 liters of wine was left to be picked up. Simple instructions explained the steps. It was interesting to observe the change of atmosphere which seemed awkward at the beginning. Nevertheless, it was observed that strict conceptual approach and the small number of visitors do not necessarily mean failure. The speed with which the sprays were picked up was contrasting to the atmosphere up to that moment. The narrow corridor was getting filled with an intensive synthetic smell while the participants were finishing their sprays. The outcome of the action was a fresh series of spiral drawings reminding of scores of a particular music piece.
Igor Korpaczewski is a teaching assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and his street works combined approach puts together studio-like painting with genius loci of the place. In our case his inspiration is in line with the old façade and memorial bronze plate. He shaped the figure of soldier, dying far away from home. The same old story. Such a situation lead us over the ages where the recurrent theme of death varies in endless creativity. Death is just one of them.
text: Petr Valer
translation: Andulka Koudelkova