Life is Elsewhere – Launching a new book
when: 17.12 at 5 p.m.
where: GAFU, Českobratrská 1182/16
We invite artists to participate in the 9th annual festival of art in public space Kukačka that will take place between 29 September and 7 November 2021 in Ostrava, CZ.
The statement “This is Not Art“, by which we thematically frame the 9th edition of the festival, does not represent only a semantic game. Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, to which the theme refers, is perceived more as a springboard to general reflections on the role of art in contemporary society. We do not primarily point the question to the relationship of image and reality, but to what extent, or in what way, art itself participates in reality. Thus, the assignment can imply two meanings at the least: The first exposes the motive of the (supposed) treachery that art was to commit towards society by becoming incomprehensible and empty. It becomes a challenge to all the artists, who are bold enough to enter public space, and who refuse to use it only as a cheap alibi, a would-be gesture of goodwill to abandon the safety of an art gallery without the necessary adaptation to the changed paradigm. The second meaning bears no less import. It is, succinctly speaking, the ability of art to act. According to Maurice Blanchot, “Art acts little and acts badly (...). Art flies around truth, with the decided intention not to burn itself.” Does this mean that art must merge with life in order to achieve the change it calls for? Does it have to resign from its status? And if it does, what fills its place? Had Marx taken the path of his youth's dreams—to write the most beautiful novels in the world—he probably would have enchanted the world, but he wouldn't have shaken it. So is it necessary to write Das Kapital and not War and Peace? Is it not possible to "just" paint Caesar's killer, is it necessary to be Brutus? If a major part of the artistic production of today is being condemned in the sense of our motto, it, unfortunately, does not mean that these works of art must have crossed the line between art and active life—and thus gained the ability to act. Sadly, the reasons are different and indicate a communication failure. No matter how the participating artists approach the motto of this year's festival (whether they take its content literally or work with it as a metaphor), the goal, although naive and distant, is obvious—to achieve at least the germ of catharsis, a necessary precondition for the restoration of the relationship between the (artistic) work and its recipient.
Description and visualisation of proposals together with CVs to be sent to email@example.com.
Application deadline: 31. 3. 2021
Kukačka (Cuckoo) is an Ostrava-based platform for non-gallery display of contemporary art, which draws inspiration from the brood parasitism of a cuckoo. Its main goal is to define socially and culturally innovative processes and strategies and to apply them in authentic art interventions. Cuckoo seeks answers to questions about a social role of art, its ambitions and ability to establish mutual dialogue outside the frame of a white cube. In a broader context, it also deals with the current discrepancy between the ability of artists to communicate and the willingness of the audience to understand.
T +420 608 357 686
The 5th year of the festival is thematically defined by the motto “Non-places and Empty Spaces”. The term “non-place”, in keeping with the considerations of the French sociologist Marc Augé, primarily means spaces that lack any symbolic expression, identity, relations or history. Looking at today’s airports, station halls, shopping centres, car parks, motorways, petrol stations, anonymous hotel rooms or public transport, it is clear that these (non)places have never in history occupied as much space as at present. Non-places negate any differences. They don’t require visitors to have any special knowledge, making their actions largely automatic, without a deeper experience. However, differences and authenticity don’t disappear from today’s public space just because they are suppressed (as is the case of non-places). They can also be made invisible or, more precisely, prevented from being visible. This is the special feature of “empty spaces”, which, according to Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and Monika Kostera, are places to which no meaning is ascribed. They may be urban slums, as well as rubble sites, waste dumps or unused plots. It is not necessary to separate them physically, surround them with wires or build obstacles around them. They are not prohibited places, but empty spaces, inaccessible because of their invisibility. Zykmunt Bauman, another of the authors dealing with this phenomenon, adds: “If sense-making is an act of patterning, comprehending, redressing surprise, and creating meaning, our experience of empty spaces does not include sense-making. Empty spaces are first and foremost empty of meaning.”
If today’s Ostrava is rich in something – except the memories of coal mining, of course – it is probably in its abundance of “non-places” and “empty spaces”. After all, it is that “strange city without the Baroque or context”, as described by Radovan Lipus, or it is not even a city at all, maybe only a place or pieces of places where “our sojourn” takes place, as characterized by the poet Petr Hruška. Ostrava is constantly struggling with its identity, and even its current development doesn’t show any significant consolidation. The structure of the city, whether urban or social, continues to be highly fragmented, and the question is whether it will ever reach a certain culmination or whether, so to say, it will again fall into primal chaos.
Do we need flags in the glare of the shining future?
“We’re walking down the street that was here long before us, surprised at the number of rusty, unused flagpole brackets on walls. It is now only in films and fantasies that we see streets richly decorated with flags. Wall brackets are usually not taken away, not even during renovation work. ‘What if they come in handy!’ So we ask ourselves: on what occasion are we going to hang out flags? Are we going to be forced to do so by something or someone? What kind of future can we expect? Has the virtual flag replaced the real one? We want to choose a model Ostrava street with plenty of unused brackets to decorate it with flags as an experiment. Poles with flags will be inserted in the empty brackets. We won’t ask anyone, it won’t harm anyone, and we won’t cause any damage. And perhaps we will experience the city differently, as a fully-fledged place.”
There are different fabrics, which is even more evident when blown in the wind of public space. While laundry drying on a balcony clothesline is an expression of everyday life and fundamental individualism, poles with flags inserted in wall brackets evoke a festive time and an atmosphere of shared identity – though often enforced with the use of violence. In both cases, however, textiles fluttering in the wind have the potential to inhabit the city. Nevertheless, nobody hangs out flags nowadays, and if any events (sports rather than others) encourage us to do so, we tend to decorate our cars rather than our houses. People are simply rather tired of this way of expressing collective solidarity in these latitudes. The previously self-evident and later enforced action is now only worthy of the interest of an artistic guerrilla.
In each case, the Black Media group’s act is free of any ideological colour. As such, it is solely motivated by aesthetic dictates. It looks more like an attempt to revive an impressionistic painting. A picture on which, however, the tricolour has been reduced to two poles only – black and white.
Black Media is a group formed by two graduates and one student of the Markus Huemer New Media Studio of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts – Martin Bražina, Jakub Geltner and Viktor Vejvoda. In addition to their own work, they also use this common platform when organizing the GIF Festival and the Minimal Cinema. The Black Media group was founded as a creative tool for cooperative production. The original goal of its members was to create a band that would play what others talk about and create. However, their experiments on the music scene proved that apart from posing for the cover photographs in the music media the Black Media members were not sufficiently mature. Therefore, the group withdrew into the realm of creative activities and began to work as a tool to perform acts that no artist would dare to do alone.Show on map
In a performative project lasting several days, the artistic duo Ján Valík and Viktor Fuček use spotless white paper as a medium for preserving spontaneous imprints of everyday presence. In their work, paper forms a character index which registers and records surrounding stimuli, whether they be gestures or movements of both artists or effect of time, place and weather conditions. For them it is a means through which they are more easily able to become aware of their own physicality and the mutual relationship between body and space.
The instability of paper, emphasizing the transience and process character, can also be seen as a conscious reference to Morris’s theory of “Anti Form”, which views the artefact materiality as a contradictory order associated with entropy in the sense of constant change of the work, without the possibility to achieve its final form. In fact, this resonates with the way Ján Valík and Viktor Fuček install their works on the ground, throwing them around almost like waste. Their project, oscillating on the delicate line between order and chaos, creation and destruction, strength and instability, can be understood as a symbolic expression of the Ostrava genius loci.
* 1977 Komárno, lives and works: Bratislava
Viktor Fuček graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (1996–2001) and the Miloš Šejn Conceptual Art School and Tomáš Vaněk Intermedia Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (2007–2012). In his work, he focuses on the interface of several disciplines and media. He is interested in human sensitivity to one’s immediate surroundings, as well as in the relationship with space and time, and he also tests structures of perception, behaviour, physicality and memory. His works are usually inherently performative and processual, based on instability and fugacity. Together with the composer Marián Lejava, he worked on the production of a video-opera for radio (“The Water House of Colors”, 2005). In 2006 he participated in the “Jesus’s Blood Never Failed Me Yet” project by the British composer Gavin Bryars. Along with Ján Valík, he is a finalist of the Arte Laguna Prize in Venice (2014).
* 1987 Bratislava, lives and works: Bratislava
Ján Valík graduated from the Miloš Šejn Conceptual Art School and the Tomáš Vaněk Intermedia Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (2007–2012). His most frequent means of expression are painting, performance and video, which he places in mutual relationships. He is interested in both “external” themes – perception of landscape, natural processes and motion – and “internal” themes – records and articulation of experiences and emotions. Since 2013 he has been collaborating with Viktor Fuček on site-specific performances using paper as a medium. He is a finalist of the EXIT Award and Best of College Photography (both 2011). Along with Viktor Fuček, he is a finalist of the Arte Laguna Prize in Venice (2014).Show on map
Although the land where Ostrava today stands was settled in the late Palaeolithic, it is a city with a relatively shallow historical anchor whose importance grew significantly only in connection with coal mining in the 19th century. The local subsoil is dominated by mining pits and tunnels rather than by archaeological excavations revealing a complex stratigraphy of cultural and historical sediments.
Lukáš Hájek’s installation may therefore cause somewhat ambivalent feelings among the locals. Its form morphologically refers to archaeological sites. However, the artist’s aim is not primarily to create a false situation of archaeological survey in a place with limited historical memory. The site-specific installation, situated in one of the many grassy areas in the city centre is conceived more like a “statue” inside out, sunk into the ground. Guided by this idea, he also reinforces the formal and aesthetic attributes of the current excavation, playing an almost constructivistically balanced composition, supported by visual stimuli in the form of wall cladding, measuring instruments, surveying rods and simulation of exposed shapes of underground pipelines in the excavation.
* 1980 Žatec, lives and works: Slavětín
Lukáš Hájek graduated from the Richard Fajnor Multimedia Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (2003–2009). His earlier works using technology and technical images have been recently replaced particularly by installations and sculptures. In this activity he usually focuses on everyday reality and the objects that surround us. However, he doesn’t give them the autonomy of the artwork by using a ready-made method, but by projecting their morphology into objects that accentuate their aesthetic potential. As in the case of his work for this year’s Cuckoo festival, he used a similar approach in the past for objects and installations of varying forms of fishing floats, traditional home-made cakes, roads, motorways, etc. Lukáš Hájek also occasionally deals with social issues, e.g. the “Soup” happening or the “Hájek – Porcal” project, whose purpose is to offer the geocaching community a new form of “treasure” – works by contemporary artists.Show on map
“The archetypal objects are located in various places. The context generates meaning. Sometimes they are functional, offering an unexpected perspective. Sometimes they are only for the eyes.”
Ladders imply a variety of meanings. At the symbolic level, they traditionally represent a transition from one level to another or a means to achieve a new ontological grade. They embody the approach to reality, mediating communication between heaven and earth. This interpretation could be reinforced by the material used, because the birch from which they are made is the cosmic tree of shamanism. Likewise, they can be an expression of something makeshift or a desire to escape. The question is which of the meanings comes to the fore in these situations. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the purely aesthetic dimension of the installation, based on the simple contrast of the natural form and the urban environment.
The H3T Studio was founded in 2009 by the architects Vít Šimek and Štěpán Řehoř. In 2010–2011 it had a third member – Matěj Velek. The studio’s portfolio is very diverse, naturally oscillating from architecture to interventions in public space. Its projects include saunas, tea houses, vantage points and unusual street furniture (Grosseto benches). H3T architects regularly work with the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival and the Designblok festival. They are also associated with the “Summer on the Ship” project.Show on map
Just as minimalists tried to redefine art by focusing not on the work itself, but on its surroundings, Klára Horáčková applied this inverse logic to advertising in order to make it disappear symbolically in the mirror reflection of the outside world. However, while in minimalism the mirror primarily implied a chiasmic relationship between the object and the subject, anchored in Lacan’s psychology and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception, her installation reacts to the current surfeit of visual stimuli. “The ubiquity of created images affects our perception of the world. We consider it natural to spend a lot of time being immersed in the ideas of somebody else. Often the time spent in such a way even predominates, and the conscious boundaries between the personal and somebody else’s, i.e. imposed, or virtual and real become blurred,” she says.
Her aim is not only the need to offer the audience a different view of the images that surround us, distracting their attention from manipulative advertising information and directing it back to the “reality”. In the given context, her installation also provides an explicitly activist dimension, because the rectangular frame of the advertising billboard reflects, from a certain angle, a former “shop window” of Ostrava and today one of many neuralgic points of the city – the decaying department store Ostravica.
* 1980 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Klára Horáčková graduated from the Vladimír Kopecký Glass Studio of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (2000–2006), where she currently works as an assistant professor. Her primary means of expression is glass, which materially determines both the artist’s free production and design. A significant segment of her activities is formed by her works in public space, which – usually through minimalist morphology – comment on current issues related to human perception, manipulation and advertising. Klára Horáčková’s Ostrava works were preceded, for example, by her acts in Kutná Hora (GASK, 2013) and Prague (Queen Anne Summer Palace at Prague Castle, 2013).Show on map
Inspiro, an art aid for children consisting of a system of plastic rings to create colourful geometric shapes, used for the development of what is called creative thinking, is nearly half a century old. For approximately the same time, it has been lying forgotten in a drawer in my grandparents’ room unoccupied for years. I released it from that place of non-existence and decided to bring to light the shapes that can be drawn with its help and create a small exhibition in public space. These are exhibition places only for limited audiences, i.e. for those who are present at the specific locations where I create my makeshift galleries and who have a chance to see these creations. People who go to relieve themselves behind a remote tram stop or the homeless who look for objects of different value in bins.
*1990 Ružomberok, lives and works: Ostrava, Brno
Hynek Chmelař is a student of the Josef Daněk Drawing Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (since 2010).Show on map
Contemporary people’s lives are filled with an increasing number of activities that can be performed – thanks to modern technology, among other things – without interaction with their immediate surroundings. The world thus becomes a somewhat instant environment which doesn’t require its “users” to master any special activity or skill and in which all the resources are intended for easy satisfaction of real or apparent needs. However, according to the French sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky, such satisfaction is so accessible and commonplace that it is able to generate only “paradoxical happiness”, without an adequate depth of experience and emotion.
Eliška Perglerová and Iveta Čermáková’s project offers an alternative to this individualism, saturated mostly with technology. The first of these two artists has long been dedicated to interactive installations whose “recovery” requires at least two users, and the second gave this idea an adequate form based on the morphology of a jigsaw puzzle. It is only as shared that their “benches” become valid and fully functional street furniture. They can thus be seen as a fulfilment of Miwon Kwon’s opinion that in the context of local specificity a more important role is played by a group of people who share awareness of the shared identity rather than by a place as a defined location.
* 1987 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Eliška Perglerová graduated from the Jindřich Zeithamml Sculpture Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the Jiří Příhoda Monumental Art Studio (2008–2014). Her works are characterized by post-minimalist morphology and elements of interaction. They are usually installations emphasizing processual and performative dimensions, which is also confirmed by the fact that she speaks of her most extensive cycle so far, LDT (Lucid Dreaming Therapy), as an act on the border between free statues and a nightmare treatment simulator. This cycle also contains her work Stiffening, which the artist presented at the last year’s Cuckoo festival. Eliška Perglerová is a finalist of the Essl Art Award CEE 2013.
* 1988 Humpolec, lives and works: Praha
Iveta Čermáková graduated from the Jitka Svobodová and Jiří Petrbok Drawing Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (2008–2012), where she focused on space as a backdrop to personal stories. She further developed the theme of space memory at the Jiří Příhoda Monumental Art Studio (2012–2014), where she graduated with her work Different Perspectives, consisting of interior reconstruction based on eyewitnesses’ memories. As part of her studies at the Furniture and Interior Design Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (since 2014), she tries to develop the theory that objects are not only the background to human destinies, but can also signal new stories.Show on map
The original idea of the installation was to create something the audience would like to be photographed with. It was supposed to represent an environment that seems natural, familiar, but that is also exposed to the context of one of the specific and disturbing places that Ostrava abounds in.
The selection of individual parts of the interior refers to the work environment: a work desk, a chair, a lamp and things that make work more pleasant or serve as a stimulant, for example a cup for black coffee, decorations on the walls, a flower, etc.
To unify the environment, I added to these interior elements two basic walls symbolically defining the living space. Then I interconnected this whole semantically, using a colour that I called “Ostrava international black”.
Over time, the installation merged in my mind with the idea of a study of one of Ostrava’s artists – a poet or writer, whether well-known or one that is still waiting to be discovered. However, the exact focus of the study is not clear, and the details that appear in it are of a rather universal character. The emphasis on the topic of work also strengthens its position in the immediate vicinity of a chemical plant. Behind the rear wall are huge pipes and low smokestacks with flames occasionally shooting out. The installation becomes complete at the moment when fire comes out of them.
* 1986 Kežmarok, lives and works: Praha
Patrik Kriššák graduated from the Daniel Balabán Painting Studio I of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava. In his work he focuses on the relationship between painted and technical pictures, as well as on the exploration of the boundaries of the traditional medium of painting, determined by both mimetic record and the basic artistic gesture of brush stroke. Kriššák’s creative approach is a mix of spontaneity and conceptual thinking, enhanced by his favourite materials such as resin, fur and electric current. These materials provide the artist’s artefacts with an element of magic and protection. In Ostrava, for the second time in a short period his work is significantly determined by the colour black (the “Inversion” exhibition at the Lauby Gallery). Patrik Kriššák is a finalist of the StartPoint Prize (2011), Critics Awards for Young Painters (2011) and STRABAG Art Award (2011).Show on map
It is barely half a century since the present Milada Horáková Orchard was the site of an old city cemetery. Unfortunately, the decision taken at the end of the 1950s to abolish it also heralded the end of the local crematorium buildings built in 1925. In its time, it was the first facility of its type in Moravia, and its importance was underlined by the architectural quality of the project prepared, in the spirit of Cubism, by Vlastislav Hofman in collaboration with František Mencl. There is nothing resembling this building now. Kubica’s project can therefore be seen primarily as free associative play with the local identity. A wooden container has been placed in the space where the crematorium was approximately located, containing fragments of architectural elements inspired by cubist morphology. It is not possible to enter it, so passers‑by have to look through narrow slits in the container walls.
According to its creators, the original building was supposed to reflect a desire to rise to the heights and to express the metaphor of alchemical transmutation of man by fire and his communion with the universe. Kubica’s project, however, also accentuates other utopian (cubo-expressionist) principles of modernism, in which the crystal is not only a means to achieve moral purification (Paul Scheerbart), but also a sought-after symbol of inimitable art whose splendour of mathematical combinations and geometric schematization display absolute beauty (Wilhelm Worringer).
* 1987 Ostrava, lives and works: Ostrava
Martin Kubica graduated from the Marius Kotrba and Jaroslav Koléšek Sculpture Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (2006–2012). During his studies he mainly focused on the articulation of the human body in space. Later he developed this interest into the pursuit of a more comprehensive capturing of the relationship of the traditional figure and its surroundings, often seeking to use “site-specific” strategies. Recently, he has abandoned the figure in his work, leaving its role for the audience. He creates models of buildings, fragments of architectural spaces, as well as everyday objects connected with the building of human settlements and human activity in general. His work partially resonates with the ideas of the so-called critical regionalism and theoretical reflections of the phenomenologist and architecture theorist Christian Norberg-Schulz.Show on map
In connection with the change in the lifestyle habits of Czech society during recent decades, most cities are confronted with the marginalization of the importance of their centres. They become open-air museums for tourists (a better case) or something like ghost towns (a worse case). However, in both cases the moribund authentic tourism in the centre is primarily a silent reminder that “life is elsewhere”. Instead of city centres, the role of the catalyst of social life has been taken by shopping malls, which easily accommodate our desire for instant entertainment and satisfaction. It has been a long time since they have not only occupied urban peripheries, but have also been built near former city centres, creating an alternative artificial urban landscape without local identity or historical context.
The situation is commented on by Šárka Mikesková, using an extremely sarcastic and uncompromising intervention. In one of the places in the city centre where, due to the outflow of purchasing power, several residential spaces have been vacated, she places a concrete, tomb-like building crowned with a simple white cross which is reflected in the windows of empty former shops. This act not only transforms the former city centre into a place of memories, but it also actually confirms the already mentioned current redistribution of roles, based on which the centre becomes the periphery and vice versa.
* 1977 Opava, lives and works: Ostrava
Šárka Mikesková graduated from the Marius Kotrba Sculpture Studio of the Department of Creative Arts, Faculty of Education of the University of Ostrava (1996–2001). She is one of the unmistakable artists of the younger middle-aged generation. Her work, characterized by humour, irony and a unique flair for ideological or formal abbreviation, includes both traditional sculptural approaches and site-specific conceptual projects. This is the second time at the Cuckoo festival that this artist has taken on the role of hard-line commentator on public affairs (Ecce Homo, 2013).Show on map
A little Romanesque church surrounded by countryside – such a place evokes a feeling of historical continuity. This is perhaps what it looked like in the Middle Ages, when the church was built. Sometimes we manage to find a place with such a view that nothing resembles the present. The attractiveness of Romanesque country churches has something in common with the ordinary human proportions: they have none of the impressive dimensions that we see in noble city cathedrals. In addition, they are usually far away from everyday stress, and the feeling of loneliness is reassuring.”
At first glance, this description by Rolf Toman from the introduction to a study on Romanesque art could also fit the scene offered to the audience by the photographs in Libor Novotný’s installation. A broader perspective or personal experience, however, soon reveals that the idyllic scene is not bigger than a few dozen centimetres and that this island of tranquillity is not somewhere in the country, but on a street lamp near a shopping centre. Nevertheless, the meaning of the installation is not only the absurd collision of two realities clearly revealing the illusory nature of the contemporary world mediated by the media. Both realities can also be read as symbols of a particular era. However, if a medieval church is the image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, as a coveted reward of the Christian in the hereafter, gigantic shopping centres represent an updated picture of the Garden of Earthly Delights.
* 1979 Železný Brod, lives and works: Ostrava
Libor Novotný graduated from the Eduard Ovčáček Free Graphics Studio and the Petr Lysáček Intermedia Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Ostrava (2002–2007) and the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (2009–2014). Currently, he works as an assistant at the Josef Daněk Drawing Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts. During his studies he established himself as an artist of interventions in public space. Initially, their essence was formed by a semantic basis, but equally important was the formal articulation of specific textual messages in which an important role could be played by Novotný’s studio experience with Eduard Ovčáček. The artist’s penchant for creating startling stimuli of the audience’s attention went hand in hand with his interest in the processuality and ephemerality of artwork, which particularly in public space is exposed to various, more or less predictable, factors. His fascination with these processes eventually led him to the idea to run the “outdoor” Kaluž (“Puddle”) Gallery (along with Jana Zhořová), the name of which reflects the fundamental limits and specificity that each exhibitor must cope with. Working with the public space also leads him to other means of expression, such as installation or video. However, the individual works continue to keep their characteristically subversive and sometimes even comical character. Libor Novotný is a co-organizer of the Cuckoo festival of art in public space held in Ostrava.
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“A tree already stands with one foot in its grave, so it’s a logical step to bury it when it dies. Under the earth, back to the source that kept it alive, it now serves as a breeding ground for future siblings. Only its stem recalls its presence.”
Just like in his parallel project “Pruned in Line”, Helmut Smits refers in this work to our human need to adapt the world around us and to impose our rules upon it. Cultivation of nature in this case took the form of a traditional funeral rite, as one of the typical indicators of human culture and civilization, which makes us markedly different from other animals. The artist placed a dead tree in a pre-prepared grave instead of human remains, and the stump that remained suddenly became a tombstone.
*1974 Roosendaal, lives and works: Rotterdam
Helmut Smits is a Dutch multidisciplinary artist, a graduate of the Akademie voor Kunst en Vormgeving St. Joost in Hertogenbosch (1997–2001). His work has absorbed a number of stimuli from the contemporary world, from the language of corporate brands to state symbols and other forms of representation of power to communication mechanisms of contemporary media. An important element in the artist’s work is activism confronted with a considerable amount of subversive humour. Smits’s works lead to the revelation of ingrained social schemes or our perception. They often also reveal the potential of public spaces as places full of surprises and everyday wonders.Show on map
“A tree grows, and a building grows too, but only for as long as it’s being built. By pruning the trees in line with the roof of the building, the building and the trees are more connected with each other than before. Together they form a line in the sky.”
In the urban space, public greenery represents a logical and sought-after counterweight to the artificial world of buildings and roads. Therefore, its importance has sharply increased, especially in times of advancing industrialization and technological development so as to at least partially compensate for the loss of contact between the inhabitants of the city with nature. However, even in this artificial environment, nature has retained much of its natural character, and it is also ever ready to take back the lost ground.
The conflict between people and nature, extended by the (former) utopian human desire to dominate nature, is also the central idea of Helmut Smits’s project. It illustrates a somewhat violent act of symbiosis in which the artist deprives trees of their natural character and subjects them to the dictate of the geometry and regularity of surrounding buildings. His action thus partly reminds us of the effort of landscape architects of the Baroque era whose parks are dominated by order, with vegetation fully subjected to the architectural plan. Ironically, it also refers to the ideas of modernism and to its unfulfilled desire for perfect form and harmony.Show on map
“In my previous works I have dealt a lot with the genre of landscapes and urban structures deriving from romantic thoughts of beholding landscape and also reflecting on the identity of a place. I am interested in the relationship to our surroundings and the idea of nature as an aesthetical category, but also as a place of resources and monetary interests. My proposal for Ostrava consists of a heap of sand surrounded by a wall of wooden panels, like the ones typically used for construction sites. The sand should be from the surrounding area of Ostrava and preferably should come from a coal-mining or industrial facility. The city has lived off industry since the 19th century and even before that. Now this era is coming to an end. With the mountain in the city I want to create a symbol of ambivalence that shows the heap as an aesthetic object like a mountain and, on the other hand, the sand or earth as a resource and a raw material. The ground contains minerals, coal, ores, etc., and these are exploited. The earth can be used for building, making concrete and so on. The idea of the mountain in the city is to generate a new identity of location that might as well be perceived as a construction site or a landscape in public space. My source of inspiration for the project is partly Robert Smithson’s concept of sites and non-sites. On the other hand, it’s the romantic 19th century painters who painted the mountains of Silesia and Moravia in order to create an abstract symbolic idea of nature and God.”
Landscape seen both as an aesthetic category and as a source of raw materials and place of mining corporations’ financial interests. Such is the perspective of Philip Topolovac’s project, which is significantly related to the local identity of Ostrava and its surroundings. The local landscape, irreversibly affected by mining, is a typical example of the ambivalent relationship of people to the natural wealth. Traces of exploitation of natural resources are ubiquitous here. However, their status develops over time, and mining waste or irreversible interventions in the environment become welcome dominants with tourism potential. The original idea was for the project to be in the form of a mountain of soil weighing several tons and located in one of Ostrava’s squares, offering many different possibilities of interpretation: excavation, just another slag heap, “a piece of nature” imported into the city centre, or an unusual memorial to Ostrava’s mining tradition (the heap was to contain the statue of the patron saint of miners, St. Barbara). However, this option was refused by the municipality. The idea is thus only revealed by the extensive banner placed on one of the houses under construction.
* 1979 Würzburg, lives and works: Berlin
Philip Topolovac graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Universität der Künste Berlin (2001–2008), where he was led by Christiane Möbus. His work, persistently linked with urban themes, focuses on the subconscious, hidden or displaced processes of the urban organism. In Berlin, for example, he looked for debris from the Second World War to create museum installations, and in Prague he focused on the underground network of urban transport. Along with six other artists, Topolovac founded the TÄT art initiative in 2007, which includes a gallery of the same name.Show on map
„As we drive across a motorway intersection, through the elaboratory signalled landscape that seems to anticipate every possible hazard, we glipse triangles of waste ground screened off by a steep embankments. What would happen if, by some freak mischance, we suffered a blow-out and plunged over guard-rail onto a forgotten island of rubble and weeds, out of sight of the surveillance cameras?“
G. Ballard, Concrete Island (1974)
Some of the most prevalent “non-places” are undoubtedly motorways and multi-lane main roads, unifying the appearance of the edges of existing towns as well as the character of the surrounding landscape. However, the isles of greenery defined by the circles of motorway feeder roads are also typical empty spaces, places that nobody notices, which make them non‑existent.
It is this environment where Jan Krtička has placed his project. Using Jerusalem artichoke stalks, he has built a structure the shape of which evokes one of the industrial ruins that the Ostrava “conurbation” abounds in and whose presence significantly determines the local public space. In the context of Krtička’s creation, this project can be seen as an attempt to build on his older works, incorporated into the landscape. Like his “Canopies” or “Labyrinths”, this installation is also primarily based on the ambivalence of the relationship between the architectural base and the natural materials used (often of extremely unstable nature). It is the industrial morphology that provided the actual tension with the real dynamics. Basically, it is a technical structure, but its base is natural, because only plant stalks were used in its construction. Krtička’s installation can thus be figuratively viewed as a reminder of gradual, but inevitable assimilation of human interventions by nature. In the Ostrava “victim landscape” it also fulfils the traditional idea of “vanitas”, because the creation process (building) of the construction and its gradual decay is a natural part of the work.
* 1979 Olomouc, lives and works: Zittau
Jan Krtička graduated from the Faculty of Education of Palacký University in Olomouc (1997–2002) and the Jan Ambrůz Sculpture Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (2002–2006). He currently works at the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem as head of the Spatial Art Studio. Krtička’s works usually show a close relationship with the place where they have been created, whether it is landscape, exhibition space or industrial premises. In about 2010, their ephemerality and time limitations led the artist to reflect on the form of documentation of his artistic activities, and instead of photography he increasingly more often chooses the audio recording form with a verbal description of the work. Krtička is interested in the role of the artist as a documentarist and in the possibilities and limits of the documentary, both with respect to the medium and to the communication of the content. What is also significant for him is the idea of dematerialization of artwork, which is revealed by his recent works such as Clear Shape (2012), Descriptions (2012), Be Ready (2013) or John Cage – Lecture on Nothing (2012, 2014).Show on map
A set of large format photographs by Věra Kubicová captures the marginal remains of human existence (cigarette butts, discarded tickets, coffee machine cups, etc.). Through the gesture of re-photographing, the artist symbolically takes them from mud or gaps in the pavement, where they could perhaps only attract the attention of an archaeologist of everydayness, and provides them with a new status in the sense of a certain patch of empty shop windows in the Palace Hotel complex of buildings, built in the second decade of the 20th century based on a project by the architect Wunibald Deininger. Her role is thus close to Baudelaire’s flâneur. Just like him, she collects and catalogues the things rejected by the city and puts them back into circulation, equipped with new attraction. Her “micro-non-places” can thus serve as an example of the “macro-non-place” of the Palace Hotel itself, which has also been waiting for its second chance for quite some time.
*1953 Opava, lives and works: Ostrava
Věra Kubicová graduated from the Faculty of Education of the University of Ostrava (1975–1980). She currently works at the Department of Architecture of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, VŠB – Technical University of Ostrava. Besides drawing and projective geometry, she specializes in photography, which she primarily views as a quick and “indiscriminate” record. Through this medium, she creates surface structures whose meanings are defined by their contexts. Recently, she has directed this interest to photographs of pavements, conceived as snippets of texts that change over time and that are only determined by routes taken by the pedestrian-reader in the city.Show on map
“In a modern shopping centre in Ostrava stands a telescope-like object pointed at the sky. We hear a low bass resonating and some vague melodies. The sounds invite visitors to come closer. Close enough to stick their heads into the machine and see a video of a man sitting on some indefinable wooden and metal objects. The atmosphere is alienating. He seems alone in his somewhat apocalyptic world, isolated, far away and unaware of us as viewers. The man appears to be building something. He drills, screws and rearranges some pieces of the heap he is sitting on. But building what, we do not see. The man is completely absorbed in his activity, dissolved in his everlasting moment. We do not know the goal of the man’s work. Where and when does it end?
We are used to linear time. But – in a larger perspective – there is no beginning and end, only repetition. Because in essence we do the same as people before us and people after us.
The telescope and the sounds within give you the idea that you are going to see the universe, impressive, large and endless. Instead you see a man at work, confined in space. Building a universe of his own.
As human beings we are aware of our existence. And therefore we are looking for meaning in our lives. If we were to look at ourselves as from another planet, how would we interpret our efforts?”
In the middle of a gigantic shopping centre, Wendy Oakes’s installation looks like a telescope into another reality. She uses contrast, placing side by side the artificial environment of turbulent passions plus easy gratification and an alternative of the world as something disturbing, without clear answers. Its presence is at first only announced by a dark droning sound that is slowly mixed with music and hypermarket sounds. A more significant shift in perception only occurs when the audience decides to look into the dark tunnel of the telescope. In conjunction with the image, the whole situation gains urgency, and the virtual reality of the hypermarket is replaced by a different reality, pervaded with the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the vaguely defined environment of an industrial landscape with traces of routine mechanical work.
*1983 Amsterdam, lives and works: Amsterdam
Wendy Oakes graduated from the Photography Studio of the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague (2008–2012). The starting point of each work by the artist is a reality, in which, however, she reveals and emphasizes fictional elements. Her films and videos deal with human emotions, loneliness, desire for power, and the dark side of our being in general. The existentially oppressive effect of her work is usually balanced by her empathic approach, happily mixing humour and compassion. In 2012 she received the Stroom Aanmoedigingsprijs award for her graduation film, DreamKing.
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Ever since the Romantic era, people have been fascinated by the ruins of old buildings, not only because they are witnesses of times gone by, allowing us, at least partially, to reconstruct the past, but also because we perceive them, in their incompleteness, as being beautiful. The place that Petr Szyroki chose for his installation displays no obvious traces of distant past today. Until recently there was the Josef Kotas winter stadium, which was replaced by a new flyover at the end of the last century. However, the fragments of the perimeter walls of face bricks that Szyroki built at a greenfield site don’t have the ambition to revive the recent past. It seems that they reveal much older fictitious – as must be added – historical sediment in the form of the foundations of a rural religious building from the Middle Ages. The motivation of this act is not a mischievous attempt to pretend a phantom history, but rather an effort to highlight the precariousness of shaping an idea about local identity based only on visual experience and personal memory.
* 1991 Karviná, lives and works: Ostrava
Petr Szyroki is a student of the Jaroslav Koléšek Sculpture Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (since 2013).Show on map
“I perceive memorials as procedural objects and visual changes undergone over time as their integral part.”
The function of memorials is especially commemorative, and they represent a stimulus of memory, a reminder of what has passed or of someone who is not here any longer. Their existence naturally refers to the inevitability of the passage of time, but they usually try to resist it. But Tereza Šimková’s memorials are different. They are not made of stone, bronze or other “resistant materials” with the promise of eternity, but of those in which the decomposition process is already implicated. The artist used Vizovice dough as the basic material, which is also combined with leftover food or natural materials. Upon their completion, they merge with the surrounding environment, and their increasingly furrowed surface can perhaps reveal – in the sense of sympathetic or imitative magic – something about the area they are placed in.
* 1989 Domažlice, lives and works: Praha, Bratislava
Tereza Šimková graduated from the Jiří Kovanda Performance Studio of the Faculty of Art and Design in Ústí nad Labem (2009–2013). Currently she studies at the Dominik Lang and Edith Jeřábková Sculpture Studio Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (since 2013). The artist’s work is above all characterized by discreet interventions in public space and subtle installations using everyday materials or materials she has found, through which she develops themes such as the passage of time, memory and transience.Show on map
The historical experience and character of its foundation gave Ostrava the form of a heterogeneous whole interconnected with careless seams. The city is divided by many territories that remain unnoticed by the municipality and its ordinary inhabitants or that are marginalized. However, they are not white spots on the map, because even these spaces have found their uses.
Petr Švolba’s installation enters this field with street furniture inspired by improvised shelters of homeless people who typically seek similar places. In contrast to their instability and temporary character, he gives it the petrified form of concrete casting whose existential nakedness corresponds to the brutalist aesthetic of the remote corners of the city roads, bridges, underpasses and dilapidated houses. Even though its functional qualities may be questioned, the construction is designed to be able to accommodate just one person lying down who has nowhere to hide from the rain. With a little exaggeration, this shelter can be seen as a sort of teleport to another, desired reality. The grass carpet that emerged from the seeds planted on its inner walls could also represent a personification of these ideas in the future.
* 1985 Český Brod, lives and works: Olomouc
Petr Švolba graduated from the Marius Kotrba and Jaroslav Koléšek Sculpture Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (2006–2012). His work deals mainly with the identity of place, city-country relations, nature-civilization relations and nomadism. His works naturally balance on the border between the traditional approach to sculpture, installation and architecture. Their forms and materials used often refer to the archetypal tradition of construction, as well as to the most elementary building types of shelter or refuge. Švolba cooperates with the D.I.V.O. Institute and BAZART OFFICE in Liège, Belgium. Since 2010, he has co-organized the Šumakart symposium, together with Kateřina D. Drahošová.Show on map
Before each election, the public space is filled with political slogans that not only occupy most of the existing advertising space, but that even expand beyond it. If you strip away the leaders’ faces and the names of the parties, the slogans merge into one stream of interchangeable empty words spiced with commonly accepted racism. I copied some of these empty or hateful phrases on long pieces of cloth and placed them in an empty overgrown fenced plot in Mariánské Hory. The slogans that normally try to be as close to the centre of attention as possible find themselves on the absolute periphery, in the quarantine of a gap site that emerged after the demolition of houses usually occupied by people that the arrogant political diction calls “unadaptable”. In addition to this (for the ignorant visitor) hidden level, the place is impressive for its deserted and depressing, as well as romantic and somewhat mysterious atmosphere. The place behind the fence overgrown with herbs and trees thus doesn’t have to be only a memento of destruction and transience, and it can also evoke a lost paradise.
* 1984 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Eliška Vrbová graduated from the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University in Prague (2004–2008). She currently studies at the Tomáš Vaněk Intermedia Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (since 2010).Show on map
It has become customary to describe Ostrava as a space without a natural centre, as a cluster of places rather than a city, and its population as temporary settlers rather than as indigenous inhabitants. However, the urban, demographic and social diversity of the local agglomeration is not only a sign of its historical unanchoredness. It is also – somewhat paradoxically – something like a cornerstone of its identity. If there is something that makes Ostrava different from other major cities, it is the diversity pervading all spheres and the contrasts that create the appearance of constant change and movement. However, the direction is not clear, whether progressive or degressive and whether it is a sign of growth or decline. Ostrava is simply full of places where something is suggested, incomplete or fragmented. It is in this situation that Dušan Záhoranský comes with his installation that occupies the apparently purposeless pedestal in front of Poruba’s Arch, originally intended as a triumphal entry into the city. In this form, the project in many ways follows the artist’s earlier cycle Mimicry, that consisted of filling in “holey” sites in Prague with discreet interventions so that it is not immediately clear whether the new insertion should be there or not. They differ, however, in the fact that he provides the object directly with the character of a slightly deconstructed inscription “belonging”, which may refer to the local identity as well as to the artist’s personal story, because he was close to growing up in Ostrava instead of in Košice. The object can thus be also seen as a form of personal remembrance of alternative fate.
* 1972 Havířov, lives and works: Praha
Dušan Záhoranský graduated from the Juraj Bartusz Free Creativity Studio of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (1991–1997). His work is primarily based on installations, in which he accentuates his interest in words, characters and linguistic phenomena. Using their visual effects, he plays with their impressions, enriching or negating their primary meanings, or further shifting them into the field of imagination. Besides his artistic activities, Dušan Záhoranský is well-known for his role as curator of the Meetfactory gallery lasting several years.Show on map
Ostrava is a place where boundaries are blurred not only between the centre and the periphery, but also between urban and rural areas. Despite the explosive development and radical industrialization, a number of local districts don’t seem to have completed their urban conversion, still visibly keeping their village foundation. Furthermore, the individual parts of the city are surprisingly often separated by fields, meadows, groves and forests, so sometimes you just leave the main road and suddenly find yourself in a completely different world, governed by country rules.
Zbořil’s haystacks, which emerged in a place that is still looking for a new local identity after the actions of a developer, don’t only aim to highlight this averted rural face of the Ostrava agglomeration. Their import into the new city centre can be seen as an ironic commentary on impressionist paintings that still, perhaps most eloquently, embody the unfulfilled human desire for an escape from civilization to the bosom of nature. Passers-by can perceive the visual and olfactory sensation of the haystacks as they like. Just like impressionism ignored the reasons for its existence – it was earthly, without the need for transcendence – Zbořil’s act ignores them too. It is primarily play, offering a wide range of associations. Play that has no predetermined denouement.
* 1991 Zlín, lives and works: Ostrava, Zlín
Pavel Zbořil is a student of the Josef Daněk Drawing Studio of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (since 2011).Show on map
The Vítkovice station building, constructed in the first half of the 1960s, now enjoys the status of one of the finest examples of “Brussels-style” architecture. Its architect Josef Danda, along with artists Benjamin Hejlek, František Burant and Vladimír Kopecký, managed to create an impressive work in which the artistic detail is happily combined with the dynamic whole. However, this representative “gesamtkunstwerk” of the period has been decaying for a long time. Most trains that used to arrive here in the past have been diverted, and the building has thus practically ceased to perform its original function. And because no other alternative use or the station is to be expected in the near future, all life in the building has virtually disappeared.
Jan Zdvořák’s installation, freely developing a creative dialogue with the past, doesn’t have the potential to change this state and, by its presence, it actually enhances the existing provisional character. It looks somewhat like a timber warehouse for which no use has been found so far. Unlike the station building, it is protected in the well-ventilated stack.
* 1983 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Jan Zdvořák graduated from the Supermedia Studio of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (2006–2012). His spatial art is usually based on two starting points. On the one hand, it is the image in its various forms – from a standard painting to the advertising space of billboards and city lights – which he uses as an archive of forms or as a basic unit in the space of built modular systems, and on the other hand, it is the writing, as an abstract medium of communication. His installations thus embody the dialectic of surface and space, ultimately seeking to redefine the image as a medium. Many of his works, based on the specific conditions of public space, have their roots in the field of graffiti and other forms of street art. In selected cases, the artist presents his work under the name of the Pravá radost group.Show on map
“... and if there really is no other way and it makes you happy – feel free to light it, somebody will clean it up.”
There are many places in the city which attract activities that are officially banned. It can even be said, using an overstatement, that there is something like an inverse proportion in this case, i.e. the more people make sure that a certain regulation is abided by, the more frequently we encounter its violation, which can be de facto anything from crossing the road at a red light to illegal posters, graffiti, stealing of metals or pure vandalism. With respect to street furniture, probably the most vulnerable are the shelters at public transport stops, which thus also work as an indicator of the current mood and local events in society.
While at standard stops this secondary role is rather unwanted, Michal Zych’s stop was created just for this purpose. After all, it emerged in the area of a blind tram loop, where it is hard to confuse it with the real version. Zych’s stop is first and foremost a place free from any restrictions, a space for free expression, an asylum, a meeting place and stimulus of community togetherness or, if necessary, a safety valve for accumulated aggression. As a consciously illegal construction, it also tested the attitude of the municipal officials. It appears that the stop passed the test. By order of the city, Zych’s work was dismantled after 14 days.
* 1987 v Ostravě, lives and works: Ostrava
Michal Zych graduated from the Jiří Surůvka New Media Studio Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (2008–2013). His visual language oscillates between spatial art, video and performance. The artist’s “trash” installations, characterized by wit, subversion or exaggeration, usually develop the collective spirit of his home studio. However, based on the selection of themes such as originality and ideal, subversively analysing the major issues of modernism, they resonate with a wider artistic stream of the present within the meaning of the so-called “archival turn”. This perspective can also be used to view Zych’s previous work “My Biggest Heart” (Cuckoo 2010), which ironically comments on the issue of authenticity of artistic confession and perhaps also indirectly refers to the messianic-utopian ambitions of modern art.Show on map
This year’s theme implies primarily everyday life, the reflection of which is a very frequent strategy of contemporary art. It is actually one of the paradoxes of the present day. Art strives to become an active part of everyday life, taking over its mimicry to be able to shape public life more easily. The regular audience, however, is usually not interested and continues to require traditional designs. But – to put it simply – art has actually been struggling with this since the advent of modernism. The only thing that has moved are the boundaries, and what has changed are the props and the protagonists, so Baudelaire’s painter of modern life has now been replaced by art activists, archivists, field workers and cultural animators. The current artists, just like those from Baudelaire’s times, can be blamed by the regular audience for “desacralization”, which is what Hans Sedlmayr already criticized about modern art in his study The Lost Centre. Without wishing to argue against this view, we believe that art – certainly in the public space – is still able to bring about a feeling of sudden insight, a feeling that it’s all about something else. In addition, as in inverse proportion, the more mundane these impulses are, the greater the potential they offer. The more difficult it is to define the boundary between artistic intervention and standard reality, the more fragile is the boundary between the banality of everyday life and a possible miracle.
Only five minutes of every day are interesting. Motivated by this statement by Hans-Peter Feldmann, we would like to show the rest as well. This is one of the reasons why we decided to modify the current operational practice. Instead of time-limited character, the event was given a looser framework so that it could better use the town’s changes during the year. Therefore, individual installations were not created at one moment, but they continually supplemented each other or one replaced the other. This step, however, was also motivated by a desire to pull ourselves out of the halter of festiveness, inevitably implied by an event squeezed into a relatively short period of time.
The way that the sixth year of the Cuckoo relates to everyday life is quite ambivalent, just as ambivalent as the central motto. Everyday life is not just a whiff of inspiration, something that needs to be touched. In parallel with this, it is also something that must be suppressed or overcome, whether in the form of transcendence or open criticism.
This relational triangle then generates a trio of positions, expanding or rather more closely defining the thematic anchoring of this year.
1/ Space of the usual:
Everyday life as an archive of potential opportunities and unfulfilled wishes. Basic premise: You cannot escape everyday life. If someone wants to transform the everyday into an exciting world of experiences, they clearly misunderstand its nature. Supporting motif: mimicry.
Artists: Denisa Belzová – Martina Čichoňová, Vladimír Havlík, Lenka Klodová, Nela Ungerová, Jiří Zavřel
2/ Transcendence of everyday life:
Denial of the everyday, whether in the form of ritualized acts or personal epiphanies. Basic premise: Everyday life is seen as space for occasional miracles or a teleport to other realities. Supporting motif: a vertical and a (magic) circle.
Artists: Filip Dvořák – Martin Kolarov, Deana Kolenčíková, Pavlína Komoňová, Tomáš Moravec, Oldřich Morys, PLOT, Janek Rous, Helmut Smits, Lenka Szilasi, Markéta Váradiová
3/ Colonization of everyday life – critique of public space
Public space as an instrument of power focused on the colonization of everyday life. Basic premise: Everyday life, as a point of contact of all relationships and a place where a person is shaped, is successfully manipulated by power structures under the guise of a false neutrality. Supporting motif: alertness.
Artists: Renata Běčáková, Filip Dvořák, Filip and Matěj Smetana, Jakub Nitsche, Simona Pekařová, Postraut, Vladimír Turner
“People in the streets now seem to look everywhere but in the eyes. Eye contact is getting lost – what about mutual trust? The reason why I have carried out this project is that even I basically belong to this group. I’d like to do something about it: start trusting people again and be able to look at the world positively. Provoke myself and, on the other hand, find out/make sure that I don’t want to trust just everyone. What I do is intuitive, and it isn’t understood by all ‘passers-by’ in my life.”
The minimalist-looking object–booth, proportionally adapted to the human figure with two openings at eye level, is perhaps somewhat reminiscent of a guardhouse. It may also make passers-by feel that they are under constant surveillance, watched by someone secret who, if they transgress the established rules, suddenly appears and rectifies the situation from a position of authority. A similar type of “observation post” always arouses punitive connotations, equally combining the voyeurism of Big Brother with the demonstration of power enforced by the state apparatus. However, Běčáková doesn’t use this deeply-rooted convention to cheaply point out the problem of loss of privacy in today’s world, but to reverse the roles of the observed and the observing. The very presence of the object encourages increased alertness in passers-by, so instead of anonymity a person who decides to enter and quietly watch the surrounding area through the holes is exposed to the scrutiny of and direct eye contact with people in the street. And the hunter suddenly becomes a hunted animal.
*1980 Čeladná, lives and works: Hnojník
Renata Běčáková is a student at the Institute of Creative Photography at the Faculty of Philosophy and Science, Silesian University in Opava (since 2011). Apart from photography, she also uses video and installations, often in relation to public space. Běčáková is the organizer of the Ostrava art group Surovííí, an open platform of photographers and new media creators (since 2011).Show on map
The “PO Box” project consists in sending anonymous messages to other people. In the form of the Cuckoo, it is a “Brno for Ostrava” event. The basic idea is to send someone you don’t know something that is a certain personal salutation to them, a gift, something mysterious, rapture in the boredom of everyday life, something that strokes, something whose anonymity of the intimate disturbs and, at the same time, leaves an imprint on the life of a particular person.
Anonymous messages are wordless letters, small things sealed in an envelope, stuff that’s a little odd, unexpected, found, recycled, subjective, not entirely legible and imaginative. They will be posted from Brno to Ostrava letter boxes randomly selected from the telephone directory.
Denisa Belzová – Martina Čichoňová
*1980 Brno, lives and works: Brno
Denisa Belzová is a graduate of Martin Mainer’s Painting Studio 2, Václav Stratil’s Intermedia Studio and Vladimír Merta’s Environment Studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (2000–2009). She is a painter and performer. Her paintings are based on real themes – both interiors and urban landscapes – which, using subdued colours, she usually transforms into quiet, contemplative and atmospheric actions. In her performances, she aims to record spontaneous emotional life energy, whether her own or that of the more or less involved general public.
*1981 Brno, lives and works: Brno
Martina Čichoňová-Jahodová graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno, in Czech language and literature/history/Slovenian language. She is a coordinator of the Brno group of Amnesty International and an editor of the Weles literary journal. She teaches Czech to asylum seekers and translates Slovenian fiction.Show on map
Although advertisements disappeared from the facade of the former Bauhaus hobby market shortly after this retail chain left Ostrava, the company and the building itself have never really fallen into anonymity, both due to their significant contribution to suburbanisation of the urban core and their long-term responsibility for the deterioration of the urban slaughterhouse, which Bauhaus acquired from the town in the mid-1990s. The investor didn’t keep its promise (unfortunately, not secured legally by the town) to reconstruct this historic landmark and turn it into its place of business, and has neglected the slaughterhouse for twenty years since it became its property. The current status of the slaughterhouse is therefore much worse than when Bauhaus bought it from the town for the ridiculous sum of CZK 60,000. The Bauhaus management’s decision to leave the town was perceived by many as a signal of hope that the slaughterhouse would finally be saved, even more so that it was supposed to be acquired by the town, whose declared desire to establish a cultural institution here was to atone for its sin of the past. Since then, however, not much has really changed, because the negotiations between the town and the corporation came to a deadlock and have remained so for the past few months. The slogan, borrowed from a campaign from another German retail chain operating in the Czech Republic which Alena Drahokoupilová used to fill the empty structure on the facade of the building, can be read as a call for additional expression of altruism by the chain store, which at the moment is equal to beating a retreat. But it probably works more as a snide remark to transnational corporations which despite their declared solidarity with their surroundings are guided exclusively by their own particular interests.
*1983 Plzeň, lives and works: Berlin
Alena Drahokoupilová graduated from Michaela Thelenová’s and Pavel Baňka’s Photography Studio at the Faculty of Art and Design, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (2007–2010). The wide scope of her activities ranges from photography and organization of exhibitions to socio-critical and site-specific projects, in which she often capitalizes on her previous experience of studying cultural anthropology and multimedia (at the Institute of Art and Design, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, under Dušan Záhoranský and Michal Pěchouček in 2004–2007). From 2012 to 2014, she worked as a programme officer at the Czech Centre in Berlin. Although she creates and organizes exhibitions, she doesn’t like to be considered an artist or a curator, and she characterizes her position in art as intermediate (Zwischenrolle) instead.Show on map
The project reflects the theme of visuality of corporate flags in front of the headquarters of companies, shops, businesses and governments. The green screen technology is used primarily in the media and the film industry to place any modifiable content in the image instead of the green background using computer programs, for example a view of the interior of a television news studio. The green screen is therefore associated with a certain artificiality and the hidden sense of insecurity, because any visual material with a green background can be changed in post-production. This distrust in reality presented by the media, which I personify in the green screen, forms the theme of my installation. It is a sort of reverse process where I use the reality of public space as a destination for green flags, which are inherently prepared and intended for future artificial replacement with another image, for example a revolutionary slogan, the name of a multinational corporation, a political party or anything else. As a defence against the inability to navigate in the media reality, I have chosen an ironic gesture – the creation of flags that make manipulation of the image of the world even easier.
*1990 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Filip Dvořák is a student of Jiří Černický’s and Marek Meduna’s Painting Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (since 2010). His work covers painting, object creation and installations, which are often situated in public spaces. He combines different media and techniques, and creates assemblages, usually with the ambition to attract the audience to mutual interaction. Dvořák is the laureate of the Essl Art Award 2015 for the Czech Republic and a finalist of the Critics Award for Young Painters (2015).Show on map
The wreck of a boat wedged in the branches of a tree conceals something biblical. It conjures up images of a fictitious flood which none of us can remember, but which we recognise as having actually happened. Its authenticity is enhanced by its proximity to the river. The boat is thus a stimulus of mental associations that help to shape a parallel story of the space. However, the title of the work of art suggest that its creators perceive it as a monument or an abstract memorial of the story of Bas Jan Ader, a conceptual-romantic artist who disappeared without trace in the ocean in 1975, when he tried to cross the Atlantic in a small boat as part of his latest project In Search of the Miraculous. Ader used the book of the same name by the Russian esotericist Peter D. Ouspensky as the starting point here. Unfortunately, we don’t know if he was successful in his search for the miraculous or if he achieved the desired mystical experience, just as we don’t know how the winds of fate could direct his Navicella to Ostrava.
*1990 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Filip Dvořák is a student of Jiří Černický’s and Marek Meduna’s Painting Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (since 2010). His work covers painting, object creation and installations, which are often situated in public spaces. He combines different media and techniques, and creates assemblages, usually with the ambition to attract the audience to mutual interaction. Dvořák is the laureate of the Essl Art Award 2015 for the Czech Republic and a finalist of the Critics Award for Young Painters (2015).
*1993 Kežmarok, lives and works: Praha
Martin Kolarov is a student of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, namely Jiří Černický’s and Marek Meduna’s Painting Studio (since 2011).Show on map
First explore the streets in the centre of Ostrava. Find a hole in a pavement and write down its size. Then come to the Fiducia second-hand bookshop to make your own “DNA paving stone”. Bring something personal – your hair, nails, blood, urine, a photo, a letter, etc. Mix it into the concrete to be stuffed into the prepared mould. Wait until the concrete dries. The next day, along with other people participating in the event, go and put the paving stone in “its place”.
A paving stone with genetic information on who made it and put it in the pre-selected place is definitely a way to build or strengthen the relationship with the location. The person figuratively entrusts a piece of himself/herself to this piece of urban pavement, and this identification at the same time commits the person to active involvement and a relationship with his/her surroundings. This inherently poetic act therefore also contains an element of engagement, which in Ostrava (whose public space is one of the most neglected in the country) is apparently a sheer necessity. The town where the majority of pavements are still in the form of a “patchwork” of asphalt and where sometimes pavements are even missing altogether simply needs help, all the more so as the town government in the region still tends to use easy utilitarian solutions without any vision.
*1959 Nové Město na Moravě, lives and works: Olomouc
Vladimír Havlík is a graduate of the Faculty of Education, Palacký University in Olomouc (1978–1983), where he has taught at the Department of Art Education since 1990. He habilitated at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem in 1999. Havlík’s work is characterized by its diversity – it includes events (performances, happenings and land-art implementations), visual poetry, conceptual books and objects, drawing, abstract painting, video and text implementations. His work typically displays movement on the thin line between art and life, accompanied by a permanent reflection of his own past. The actions that he has carried out since the late 1970s are characterized by distinctive poetics, romanticism, naivety, gentle humour, friendliness and amusing exhibitionism. They are based on the duality of nature / urban environment, hovering between the seriously meant and the immediately challenged. The medium of performance and its documentation are also critically revised in his current work. This is confirmed by the DNA Tiles project, presented at the 6th year of the Cuckoo, which is closely connected with his actions from the early 1980s (Experimental Flower, 1981; Mistaking, 1981). Vladimír Havlík is the current laureate of the Artist Matters Prize, which is awarded to persons whose example greatly resonates with the young and emerging generation of artists.Show on map
The depopulation of Ostrava’s centre is currently a widely discussed issue. Empty retail space and offices have an impact more like an urban vacuum on those few individuals accidentally appearing in the centre. In one of the recent public debates about the current state of the centre, the Lord Mayor said that what would help is the transformation of the empty space into flats. Using a banal, almost unperceivable entry, I deal with the problem. In the Czech Republic – in contrast to the Protestant parts of Europe – inhabited places are characterized, among other things, by curtains in windows. Curtains fulfil several purposes – they protect the residents from the blinding sunlight and high temperature in the rooms. But they also serve as an insulating element from the outside world, providing the necessary privacy. In my project, I work with this convention, installing curtains in the windows of abandoned buildings in the town centre. Their presence prevents passers-by from inspecting the bleak nothingness of shops. However, by hanging them outside rather than inside, I also turn over spatial relations, giving the street one of the basic features of domestic intimacy.
*1991 Kyjov, lives and works: Veselí nad Moravou/ Ostrava
Kateřina Hlahůlková is a student of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (since 2011), namely the Text Form Function Studio led by Linda Dostálková (2012–2014) and Filip Nerad (since 2014).Show on map
Two different environments, the same activity. The Nude Act in 20 Minutes project is an installation performance – a service that offers to draw pedestrians and tourists in the nude, in the same way as a portrait or a caricature. Drawing is obviously a standard or even masterly artistic genre, generally highly rated for its difficulty. The service is offered at a stand equipped with an opaque screen on a structure for the purpose of drawing. The model stands in the space behind the screen and the artist draws him/her using the opening hole. The stand also has a clothes hanger and a mat under the model’s feet.
Probably everyone has seen a street artist drawing a portrait of a tourist. And no doubt there are also those who have succumbed to the temptations of this “public service” and who have a material memory of one of their holidays with their parents or a memory of the childhood of their long grown-up offspring. However, we can hardly find the “nude act”, i.e. a genre that is present in the academic environment or in museums and galleries almost as frequently as the ordinary portrait, in the portfolio of services offered by these artists. The answer is simple. Despite the boom of nudity that has affected modern society, we are not heading towards a new Eden. In fact, we have remained as chaste, even puritanical, as our ancestors, but due to the influence of the media there is a widening gap between the degree of nudity that we are able to tolerate in others and the degree that we find acceptable for ourselves. The conclusion implied by this is inevitable. There are more voyeurs than exhibitionists among us.
*1969 Opava, lives and works: Praha
Lenka Klodová is a graduate of the Faculty of Education, University of Ostrava (1987–1990), and Otakar Diblík’s Design Studio and Kurt Gebauer’s Sculpture Studio (1990–1997) at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. She completed doctoral studies in Free and Applied Arts at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague as well (2002–2005). Klodová is a versatile intermedia artist whose work includes photographs, sculptures or objects, as well as body art, performance and happenings. In her work, she almost exclusively uses the female element. She doesn’t avoid themes tabooed by society, whether it is a woman’s physicality, erotic desires, porn for women or certain aspects of motherhood/parenthood. Many of her works are based directly (or indirectly) on her own mother’s experience. She is not afraid to visualize – usually with a distinctive exaggeration – unorthodox views on feminine beauty and a woman’s role in society. Klodová is a member of the Matky a otcové art group (since 2001). At present she is head of the Body Design Studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology.Show on map
The starting point for my installation was the chandelier on a historic building whose appearance evoked the atmosphere of exclusivity, a high society boutique, which suddenly disappeared and was covered with dust at a not very lucrative location near the main railway station. Therefore, I decided to highlight this chandelier and, at the same time, create an absurd or even troubling situation by erasing the building’s entrance.
You probably know the feeling. You enter a room and feel that there is something different than when you last left it. But you don’t know what it is exactly. Perhaps it’s a different pattern on the curtains, objects arranged differently on a shelf, a turned-up hem of the carpet, or maybe a cup of unfinished tea in a place where, you believe, you would never put it. That state may not – and usually it doesn’t – have a real cause, but you push your senses to the limit for some time and, with extreme caution, explore the world around you. And this point is only a small step from a semblance of intuitively felt meaningfulness dominating your mind, a kind of epiphany – a revelation that there can be something more hiding behind ordinary objects than is obvious at first sight. It’s perhaps only a brief glimpse, but its intensity may defy rational judgments.
Seeing and interpreting the world differently than it has appeared to us so far is naturally one of the traditional roles of art. In current art, we can find strategies that try to achieve this just by artificially inducing the situation described above in a room where “something is wrong”. In the domestic environment, it is actually one of the most significant trends of the past twenty years. In their “discreet tendencies”, artists sometimes go so far that people can even walk around their “visual traps” virtually without noticing them. This means that, like in the past when some works of art could only be seen by selected members of society, the current works are only intended for the eyes of the chosen few. Unlike history, we are not prevented from seeing them by objective reasons, but only by our attention. Looking doesn’t necessarily mean seeing, and only a few people are willing, without obvious rewards, to make almost detective effort necessary to reveal a work of art of this nature. This is also a reason why opinions on contemporary art remain so divided. For some it is banality, for others a catapult to other worlds.
Such partial deviation from reality is certainly presented by Deana Kolenčíková’s project. Walling up the main entrance to the house is in fact such an absurd and incomprehensible act that it just makes us think and thus also build a more active relationship with our surroundings. The eyes of passers-by move around the bare wall, with their mind searching for what was there before and what the purpose of this change is, and their attention is attracted to a somewhat bizarre retro design of the light, now virtually solitary on the facade. The artist created a scene in which the fancy chandelier is the main actor and, to make it excel, she reduced – like in a classical tragedy – the number of “protagonists” to a minimum. Looking at the existing responses, however, it may seem that for locals the question of “what is happening behind the wall?” is at least equally important.
*1990 Bratislava, lives and works: Praha
Deana Kolenčíková is a student of Miro Švolík’s Creative Photography Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (since 2010). She expresses herself primarily through photographs, as well as intermedia and site-specific elements. Kolenčíková is a finalist of the Essl Art Award 2015 for Slovakia.Show on map
Everyone wants to live in harmony with oneself and with the surrounding environment. The present time, however, places increasing physical and mental demands in many areas of life, so more and more people suffer from physical and mental tension, manifested as stress, nervousness and apathy towards aesthetic and ideological perceptions. Therefore, different methods and strategies of contemporary art are becoming increasingly more important nowadays that try to incorporate art in everyday life. It is the method of “exercise with art” that shows us how art can become an active part of our being, helping us restore health and both physical and mental harmony.
edited text from the book: Maheshwarananda, Yoga in Daily Life, Prague 2007
“Exercise with Filip Hauser” is a project aimed at linking exercise and art. Unlike the standard yoga classes, the class led by the professional trainer Petr Kucharčík is expanded with exercise aids of artistic nature, specifically with Filip Hauser’s work House No. 4 – 64. The course of the event is divided into three parts. In the first, the exercisers’ bodies relax and prepare for interaction. They experience the first contact with the artefacts and become conscious of their heaviness on the stomach and chest.
In the second part, the emphasis is on convergence. The perception of shape, material and details of an individual artefact deepens, and the person becomes aware of his/her own body at that point of intersection. The body is in an indispensable symbiosis with the selected work of art. The work in the form of a house receives the resulting energy, the heat of the body.
In the final part, the exercisers move from outside body and shape stimuli to the deeper essence of the chosen artistic artefact. Personal questions can be asked. How are we affected by the appearance of the artistic artefact? Who made it? What does it mean to us? Is the shape essential for us? Does it become a symbol of our own home, a place where we come from and where we live? Or, on the contrary, is it a materialized physical box of our souls we lead a dialogue with?
Michala Frank Barnová a Pavlína Komoňová
Example of exercise: Akarna Dhanurasana (bow tensing)
Starting position: standing
Artefact marked as the “D” in the position: in the hand
Concentration: on the tip of the thumb and on the D
Breath: coordinated with movement and held in the position
Number of repetitions: 3 times to each side
Practice: Stand with legs wide apart. Turn the left foot outward to the side and then turn the head to the left. The upper body remains facing the front. The D is in the left hand, held sideways to shoulder height. Form a fist with the hand with the thumb stretched upward. Select a fixed point along the extended line of the arm and direct the D so that it is in alignment with this. During the entire exercise the gaze is always directed towards the D. Bring the right hand towards the left hand, forming a fist with the thumb stretched upward, so the right thumb hides the left thumb. Inhaling slowly draw the right hand back towards the right ear as if tensing a bow. During the entire exercise the elbows remain at shoulder height. Retain the breath for a short while in this position. Exhaling slowly move the right hand again towards the left hand, until the right thumb is again in front of the left thumb. Coordinate with the breath and repeat the movement slowly, with great concentration 3 times. Come back to the starting position and repeat the exercise on the other side.
Benefits: The exercise stretches the body, improves the ability to concentrate, and works extraocular muscles, so it is advisable to perform it before visiting the exhibition.
*1985 Svitavy, lives and works: Berlin, Svitavy
Pavlína Komoňová is a graduate of Jan Ambrůz’s Sculpture Studio 2 at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (2008–2012), and Ilona Németh’s Intermedia and Multimedia Studio, Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (2012–2014). Her work is primarily determined by two positions. In the first, she deals with independent, intimate, gender oriented or existentially tinged experiments, the main object of which is a human being. In the second, she works with sites affected by industry or by civilization in general, looking for and revealing the layer stratigraphy of their cultural-historical memory. Komoňová is a finalist of the Essl Art Award 2015 (for Slovakia).Show on map
It is surprising how little community loudspeakers are used in today’s towns. Perhaps it is due to a reasonable belief in not unnecessarily increasing the levels of sound smog, perhaps a lack of need to communicate anything through this channel, because any content transmitted in this way actually takes the form of an imperative from Big Brother. However, loudspeakers are still here and, unlike their rural colleagues, they are bored, because they virtually come to life only once a month to report the regular testing of sirens. So before their big moment comes and they announce the onset of a real Armageddon, they fool around out of boredom or while away the time in discussions. Therefore, when one of them addresses you: “Hey, you! Stop!”, you’d better obey. “Okay, you can go.”
*1991 Jablonec nad Nisou, lives and works: Jablonec nad Nisou
Jakub Nitsche is a graduate of the Department of Design at the Faculty of Textile Engineering, Technical University in Liberec, in Glass and Jewellery Design (2011–2014), and a student of Robert Vlasák’s Natural Materials Studio at the Faculty of Art and Design, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (since 2014), Nitsche is a musician and artist interested in the intersections between the two disciplines. He also explores the influence of sounds on people and their surroundings.Show on map
I deal with the theme of urban development and the associated disappearance of livestock breeding and the places designated for it. As a symbol of domestication, I have chosen one of the most common animals bred – domestic fowl – which I have placed in the context of shopping centre buildings, i.e. places that, in my view, most aptly personify the simplified sourcing of raw materials.
One of the manifestations of hypermodern society is, among other things, disconnection of the traditional ties between the consumer and the manufacturer. Consumers nowadays usually have only a vague idea about the origin of goods, taking their availability on the shelves of retail chains more or less for granted, as if it was the supermarkets where the whole process from production to final distribution of commodities is concentrated. Naturally, the roots of alienation reach deep into the past because, in essence, it represents one of the accompanying features of capitalism. With increasing globalization, however, this process acquires more and more abstract forms, and although different alternatives emphasizing greater accountability and participation of the average consumer are more and more significant (e.g. the phenomenon of community-supported agriculture, organic food, fair trade, etc.), from the perspective of the majority system they are not a significant threat so far.
In this context, Simona Pekařová’s installation can be therefore seen as a laconic comment on the current conditions. At the roundabout in the immediate vicinity of a shopping centre she puts silhouettes of domestic fowl which, from the perspective of people traveling in cars, emerge and disappear as chimeras. Besides the illusory nature of our consumer habits and ideas – the source of which is the remoteness of urban life – they can also be read as a reminder of the currently veiled local identity, because in 1880 Mariánské Hory (then called Čertova Lhotka) was still a small village with only 43 houses.Show on map
Barrier. Boundaries of our own boundaries. A white fence as a symbol of the American dream. Perfectly landscaped garden. Perfect home. Perfect life? Living your dream? Deeply rooted ideas of naive childhood about the perfect adult life which, however, is not happening as it does in those strange films. It is absurd that we believed it at that time. A fence in a treetop. In a place where it loses its original meaning. It is absurd in the same way. It doesn’t restrict anything concrete. It doesn’t protect anything that belonged to us. In fact, we appropriate something that doesn’t belong to us. Just like then we appropriate the idea that the perfect life is hiding behind a beautiful white picket fence.
LIBUŠE PRAŽÁKOVÁ – TEREZA OBŠIVAČOVÁ
LP *1984 Jilemnice; žije a pracuje/lives and works: Jilemnice
TO *1991 Valašské Meziříčí; žije a pracuje/lives and works: Ostrava
The Plot (Fence) art group was founded by two former classmates from František Kowolowski’s Painting Studio 2 at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava – graduate Libuše Pražáková (2008–2014) and student Tereza Obšivačová (since 2011). Their programme activity is to create, modify, move and tear down fences, whether in a literal or figurative sense – they perceive fences simply as fences, barriers, indicators of (one’s own) borders ...Show on map
In the 1990s the May cinema was a popular cultural destination for non-demanding inhabitants of the region. A place where the legendary Godzilla and Jurassic Park could be seen on two screens! Shortly after 2000 the cinema was closed down and its surroundings acquired a distinctive sparkle of local folklore. Not only because of a convenience store supplying fresh beer and plastic cups of rum, this dilapidated place again found its regular visitors. Today’s May cinema is irrecoverably insulated, and most of the inhabitants of the surrounding blocks of flats have no idea what’s going on inside ...
With the closure of the May cinema and its subsequent adaptation into a depository of the Ostrava museum, Přívoz lost one of the places of social life. Given the nature of its function, the depositary doesn’t really communicate with its surroundings, which is also shown by its new facade that makes the building look like an impregnable fortress. At the initiative of the Postrautists, the building returned to its original function for at least one evening. The group first took out a part of the film archive relating to the history of Ostrava from the bowels of the depository, appropriated and post-produced it to eventually use the form of multichannel projection – referring also to multiplexes, which caused the death of many traditional cinemas – to present it to the audience on the exterior walls of the depository building, whose white coat seems to directly call for similar use. Without the lights of film projectors disrupting the tranquillity of the deposited museum exhibits, the Postrautists achieved a symbolic connection of the former function of the building with the contemporary use.
IVANA PAVLÍČKOVÁ – TOMÁŠ BEŇADIK (SK) – KRISTÝNA KAŠPAROVÁ
IP *1990 Mrlínek; lives and works: Dresden
TB *1991 Bratislava; lives and works: Praha
KK *1992 Hustopeče; : Ostrava
Activities of the group, whose members are Ivana Pavlíčková, Tomáš Beňadik and Kristýna Kašparová (students of sculpture – Ivana Pavlíčková – and intermedia – Tomáš Beňadik and Kristýna Kašparová, at Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava), are on the border between performance and event-happening whose focal point is the issue of community management of the resources entrusted (Postraut, Circle) and relationship patterns in a broad spectrum of everyday life (Eden, The Dream of F. Kowolowski). The group’s work emphasizes the importance of connecting art with the general public, instilling lost values and establishing a dialogue, even at the expense of losing the autonomy of complexity.Show on map
For most cultures, the circle is the symbol of perfection. Circularity is sacred as the most natural shape which manifests infinity, celestial unity or even the divine principle. However, there is no circle in the digital environment, only points forming lines. This assumption is also the basis for Smits’s approximation of a circle constructed on the wall of a house from about thirty lines. Such a circle logically lacks fluency, and because of a significant involvement of the human factor in the form (the angle at which the lines are connected is estimated by the author only based on visual experience), it also lacks the regularity of pure geometry, which is the main advantage of the digital environment. This clash of the digital and the human can therefore be a pretext for reflection on the need for the craftsmanship of today’s artists within the meaning of the Greek concept of techne, whose principle is practically illustrated by contests between ancient painters to see who can make smoother and more regular lines with a brush. Equally, Smits’s defective circle can be read as a general metaphor of unattainability of the ideal or a bare statement of our limits in pursuit of perfection.
*1974 Roosendaal, lives and works: Rotterdam
Helmut Smits is a Dutch multidisciplinary artist, a graduate of the Akademie voor Kunst en Vormgeving St. Joost in Hertogenbosch (1997–2001). His work has absorbed a number of stimuli from the contemporary world, from the language of corporate brands to state symbols and other forms of representation of power to communication mechanisms of contemporary media. An important element in the artist’s work is activism confronted with a considerable amount of subversive humour. Smits’s works lead to the revelation of ingrained social schemes or our perception. They often also reveal the potential of public spaces as places full of surprises and everyday wonders.Show on map
“What you look at is what defines you; look above and that’s what you’ll feel like.”
pastor M. K.
Through the eyes of a flaneur, Baudelaire’s archetype of the modern artist, the town looks sometimes like landscape, sometimes like a living room. In his mind, the boundaries between the exterior and the interior, the public and the private, and the shared and the intimate become blurred. The street is the flaneur’s home, the scenery of which is constantly changing. However, its perspective is mostly horizontal, and the flaneur is engaged in everything earthly. Lenka Szilasi comes with a new version of the flaneur, whose interest is moving along the vertical. She places beds in the furniture of the “urban interior”. Ten beds, like a nest, enclosed in a circle and inviting us to dream. Naturally, you can also dream while walking, but people find it easier to dream in a horizontal position. And it should be even easier in four-poster beds …
*1976 Brno, žije a pracuje/lives and works: Ostrava
Lenka Szilasi is a student of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava, of the Jaroslav Koléšek’s Sculpture Studio (since 2013).Show on map
“Beneath the paving stones – the beach!”
A slogan from Paris student riots in May 1968
“A Monument to the Street” is an object pointing out that the street has always been a public space, as well as a battleground on which demonstrations, protests, riots and even executions took place. The object responds to the privatization of everything around us, while practically highlighting the fact that if our towns are concrete jungles without cobblestones, we won’t have anything to build barricades, smash the heads of the Nazis, politicians, cops and other fascists. The object is formed by a collage of materials from an urban itinerary whose shape resembles ice cream in a cone.
*1986 Praha, lives and works: svět/world
Vladimír Turner graduated in Audiovisual Studies at the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (2005–2009) and Jiří David’s Intermedia Communication Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (2010–2013). He works as a filmmaker (director, cameraman, screenwriter) and multimedia artist. Turner creates documentaries, short films and videos, as well as socio-critical installations and objects in public space.Show on map
Anything that lives, grows and works can, in a way, be regarded as a miracle. Flowers are able to take root and survive in the strangest places. Are the flowers I have chosen, planted in mugs, going to survive in the streets of Ostrava?
Although the question of the impact of urban environment on the psyche of its inhabitants is raised again and again without clear results, there has been evidence, at least since the post-war era of Brutalist architecture, that urban wholes contain zones or specific structures that generate a greater degree of aggression or vandalism than others. People behave differently in the historic centre, in the concrete jungle of the urban periphery and in a park. The town thus has, at least in the short term, the potential to affect our behaviour, both in a positive and negative sense. Sometimes it can motivate us to cultivate, sometimes it has a restrictive impact, and sometimes it transforms us, in hyperbole, into primitives without basic civilization habits.
The flowers that Nela Ungerová placed in the centre of Ostrava therefore also serve as a litmus test determining the nature of local sentiment. Indeed, in dismal places, for example around the ruins of the former Ostravica department store or in the car park near Masaryk Square, they were soon attacked by an unknown aggressor or a thief, but in other, maintained, sites the flowers lasted without significant injury and they were even taken care of by anonymous volunteers. At least until the moment when the municipality itself considered them as a manifestation of vandalism and they had to be removed.
Project description: About 50 mugs of various shapes and colours in which small flowers were planted. The individual mugs are put in places where one would not expect to find a flower, for example mounted on a wall or on a litter bin.
*1986 Praha, lives and works: Praha
Nela Ungerová is a student of Jiří Kovanda’s Performance Studio at the Faculty of Art and Design, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (since 2008).Show on map
An air gate is a building on the border between painting and installation, the idea and intention of which are the blending of realities. It consists of mirror strips suspended in space. If the viewer enters into the immediate vicinity of the Gate, his or her reflection in the mirrors is visually connected with the space behind the mirror, the environment is visually blended, and the illusion meets reality.
In the spirit of the minimalist tradition, Markéta Váradiová’s object focuses the attention equally on itself and on its surroundings, resulting in a confusing state in which the observer is confronted with a mixture of reality and fiction. Narrow mirror strips in superposed lines filter the observer’s view and, in keeping with Lacan’s psychology and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception, they personify a chiasmic relationship between the object and the subject. Apart from the Air Gate’s ability to correct human perception and pull the observer out from “normality”, what is also substantial is its ability to partially “retouch” the impressive wrought iron fence through which the Comenius Orchards are entered. Not only is it something like a vent into a new reality, but it also visually weakens the impenetrability of this triumphant partition between two town zones.
*1973 Jablonec nad Nisou, lives and works: Želenice
Markéta Váradiová is a graduate of the Glass Studio at the Institute of Art Culture, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (1992–1997), and the Natural Materials Studio at the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (2003–2005). She also completed doctoral studies in Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (2006–2010). The artist is a sculptor, painter and beekeeper, changing the order of these professions based on the circumstances and seasons.Show on map
A giant clothes peg lying in the grass looks more like a strange piece of urban furniture or a seesaw for children. In the vicinity of other sculptures from the era of the Symposium of Monumental Forms, its playing with scale may seem like an imitation or the secret engagement of Claes Oldenburg. However, the artist is interested in more than just postmodern playing with quotes. The peg – the two opposing sections of which are constantly pushing each other and competing, yet lose their meaning without the other – represents something of a metaphor for life for him. A metaphor he creates in a particularly symptomatic place where only recently a cemetery was replaced by a park, and the dead yielded to the living.
*1989 Vysoké Mýto, lives and works: Ostrava
Jiří Zavřel is a graduate of Daniel Balabán’s Painting Studio 1 at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Ostrava (2009–2015). His key medium is painting, which he also uses as a means of free experimentation and to transfer discoveries made therein to other fields of the visual arts. He seeks and finds joy in ordinary everyday activities and is able to record them using hyperbole.Show on map
The central theme of the 7th edition is defined by the motto "Rules of the Game". We take into account thoughts of the Dutch historian and theorist of culture Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), who saw in a game the origin of the entire human culture. According to Huizinga, all fundamental activities of the human community are intertwined with game. However, to visual arts, as the only one cultural sector, was the status of the game denied. Let us put aside the relevance of this argument, which was even in the time when Huizinga formulated this idea, somewhat dismissive towards at least part of the interwar avant-garde currents. Nevertheless, let us use this “blunder” for the present times. The basic premise is: We play and know that we play, so we must be more than merely rational beings, for play is irrational… Now, what is at stake, is the question, whether equally irrational can be also socially-engaged contemporary art? We believe, it is not always the case and it is not always sufficient, which often places such art into the role of a mentor, to whom hardly anyone listens. It is true that a game can be taken seriously only if no one is forced into it. Every game is first and foremost a free negotiation. Participating in a game out of duty, ceases to be a game. The most, it can be an obligated reproduction of a game. We also depart from this belief while thinking about the contemporary art. Simply, art must become a game again in order to be taken seriously. The visual arts, just like a game, is superfluous in the world of empiricism and rationality because it stands outside the process of an immediate satisfaction of vital necessities and demands. Above that, the arts even interrupts this process by creating its own rules. These are rules which, despite the belief of many, have nothing to do with truth or good will. Yet there are rules, which are capable to bring into the imperfect world and into our confused lives a temporary limited perfection.
The students wrote Life Is Elsewhere on the Sorbonne wall during the events of May 1968 in Paris. Why learn about life when you can live it, which can best be done by changing the world. The Revolution doesn’t have the ambition to be studied and observed, rather it’s longing for people to join it. It’s with no doubt that it’s extremely seductive and intoxicating to become a part of history. But the appeal of revolution is not only in a feeling of experiencing “real” life, but – and above all – in giving things a presumed meaning, making the world better arranged. But this is also its treachery, for it cannot stand any compromises. Revolution only sees black and white, devotees and renegades. It forces one to choose – either to submit to and participate in public affairs according to its rules, or to disagree and withdraw into the intimacy of one’s own existence.
The 8th annual Public Space Art Festival entitled Kukačka has set its ground in the space between revolution and escape and oscillates between two frontier approaches whose stimulus is inner discontent. In the first approach, disagreement transforms into a form of public gesture. The gesture, which is urgently political, since it stems from the desire to adjust the constellation of the outer world, so that it conforms to the image of its bearer. In the other approach, the world of actions is reduced to a narrow space of the alternative world. If the person cannot or does not want to actively participate in the functioning of the outer world, he/she creates his/her own world, which can be both a continuation of the “childhood fence” and an autonomous piece of art, building its own rules and regulations, because the real world is too disturbing. In terms of its content, the Festival follows the space between the revolutionary and Kundera’s “lyricist,” for whom the formless world becomes arranged, regular, clear, and beautiful, grasped into the rhythm and rhyme of poetry at once. First of all, however, this year would like to accentuate the well-known and, at the same time, persistent feeling that something always slips through our fingers. Life is Different Elsewhere.
when: 17.12 at 5 p.m.
where: GAFU, Českobratrská 1182/16
The second and third step to intervention or chicken soup.
When: November 2 from 14:00 to 16:00
Where: rear wing PLATO Ostrava, Porážková street
guided tour with curators of the festival / meeting at the Ostrava Museum
happening connected with climbing of Ema heap.
When / Where: 7. 10. at 16:00 / meeting in front of OD Nová Karolina
17:00 - 18:00 guided tour
18:00 - 21:00 Julia Gryboś & Barbora Zentkova / Potential Causes of Afternoon Tiredness
house no. 2984/1 at the intersection of Pivovarská and Vojanova streets. Map here