Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 Exhibition

Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 Exhibition

Five finalists from the ranks of visual artists up to the age of 35 were selected by an international jury for the 31st edition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020. They include Jakub Choma, artistic duo Anna Slama & Marek Delong, Marie Tučková, Jiří Žák and the Extrasensory-Aesthetics Research Working Group including Jan Kolský, Vojtěch Märc, Matěj Pavlík and Peter Sit. Artist Alma Lily Rayner, originally selected for the past edition, joined this year’s edition as well. The collective exhibition of the finalists and the exhibition of the international guest artists is held at Ostrava’s PLATO gallery for the first time in the Award’s history.

The jury consisting of Vjera Borozan, art historian and theorist, teacher based in Prague, Czech Republic (Head of the Jury), Zdenka Badovinac, director of Moderna galerija in Ljubljana, Slovenia, João Laia, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland, Lenka Klodová, artist, head of the Studio of Body Design, Faculty of Arts, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic and Laurel Ptak, director of Art in General, New York, United States, examined over 80 portfolios sent in by artists from the Czech art scene. The final selection represents a broad variety of media and theoretical approaches ranging from material approaches to sculpture, object, drawing and painting through multimedia installations to social engagement and theoretical-scientific research practice.

“The criteria the jury had in mind when selecting this year’s finalists included originality, consistency and high quality as well as aspects of social sensitivity. We are happy to welcome artists who trust methods of artistic research and combine visual arts with scientific and philosophical disciplines,” says the jury statement among other things.

For the first time in the Award’s history, the final exhibition of the 31st edition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 does not have a winner based on the decision of the participating artists who refuse the principle of competition. Thanks to this, the same space and attention should be given to all of them and the audience will be able to fully concentrate on their newly emerging works of art, without the need to compare them with each other. This year’s symbolic ceremony for the Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 took the form of an all-day symposium. A rich program was offered and the event was broadcasted live on the ČT art website.

The artists work in various media and employ diverse approaches ranging from material approaches to sculpture, object, drawing and painting through multimedia installations to social engagement and theoretical-scientific research practice. The featured works include short films, complex sculptural environments, audiovisual installations and environments for the creation and activities of a support platform for survivors of sexual violence and other forms of abuse and oppression.
A discussion and performative program and other accompanying programs are being prepared, including babysitting or guided tours for the blind.

The international guests of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 are Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, a Berlin-based artistic duo working together since 2007. In collaboration with Boudry and Lorenz, we prepared a European premiere of their new work (No) Time co-produced by Jindřich Chalupecký Society, Mediacity Seoul, Frac Bretagne and CA2M Madrid.
In (No) Time, four performers experiment with the movements that haunt them. The spectrum of unfulfilled past or future desires is transformed into choreographic elements.

Accompanying program:
6.12.2020: Jury Weekend, one-day symposium, music and performative program
20.10. – 29.1.2021: Educational programs for primary and secondary schools

The exhibition is held with financial support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Hall and J&T Bank.

Partners of the JCHA 2020 Exhibition: Cyrkl, Graffneck, Jami s. r. o., Zlatá loď, Z pokoje do pokoje

Special Partners of the exhibition by Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz: Czech-German Future Fund, ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Jakub Choma

The works by Jakub Choma are rooted in painting and his realizations still allude to this medium, despite their essential shift towards spatial object installation. Nevertheless, his works still include fragments of graphic art, use of primary color pigments as well as planar references and orientation towards horizontally installed suspended artifacts. The resulting scrums of artistic objects with trash aesthetics alluding to DIY principles are typical for their seemingly chaotic character and confrontation of diverse materials.

In his spatially expansive installation made for Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020, the artist goes the farthest within his practice of accumulation of materials, structures, allusions and indicated events. Jakub Choma created a spatially and thematically expansive multimedia installation entitled Gears of Life consisting of several environments with diverse architectures representing individual metaphorical worlds. These can be a fragmented sci-fi story of travelling through alternative universes, a physical embodiment of going through a computer game as well as a window into the artist’s mind. The artist is always latently present in the installation, as he has literally imprinted himself into the exhibited objects in the form of digital prints of his body parts on cork boards found at all the imaginary stops of the scattered environment which seems to have exploded in the gallery space. These echoes of the human body in a strange plastic-steel-wooden labyrinth allude both to their maker and to a live performance through which Choma repeatedly activates the installation throughout the exhibition. Passing through the individual environments and interacting with them shows the unlimited potential of the individual objects while challenging their purpose and function – the image of an original artistic artifact is disrupted the moment it becomes a prop.

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Anna Slama & Marek Delong

In their installations, mostly combining various media and materials, artistic duo Anna Slama & Marek Delong create a very specific atmosphere which absorbs the viewers and carries them into a world beyond reality, somewhere between a dream and a fairy tale. This effect is achieved by their ability to use techniques similar to theatrical stage design along with the emotional charge carried by the sculptures, videos and objects which inhabit the created environments.

The art project presented at the exhibition of the finalists of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 echoes the previous collective works by Anna Slama and Marek Delong by alluding to mysterious narratives inspired by the natural environment and mythology. The visitors enter a space reminiscent of a stage set or a scene from an unspecified fantasy story. On an elevated platform, they are confronted with a scene linking several emotionally ambivalent subject matters which ultimately create an unexpectedly harmonious whole. The construction of the “stage” covered with a carpet represents the space of the symbolical encounter of two substantial opposites – life and death. Two sculptures-puppets of almost human proportions are lying in an allegory of eternal rest, looking like an elf king and queen from the many legends of Norse mythology. To counterbalance this static image of death, which is immediately physically encountered by the viewers, three 3D animations are shown on screens embedded in the walls of a crumbled household.  More supernatural creatures with human and animal attributes are present, assuming almost meditative poses with an inward focus and looking like the Weird Sisters. Unlike the deadly stiff sculptures, they embody the attributes of life and fertility and evoke the constant cycle of renewal. Despite their quiet and seemingly inconspicuous presence, through which they watch over the main scene of mourning, they translate the purport of the whole picture into a message of hope and an inevitably present deeper meaning informing the relationship of life and death.

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Marie Tučková

In her artworks, Marie Tučková addresses topics linked to interpersonal relationships such as sharing, the ability of (self)expression and mutual listening. Text has always played a key role in her art, and so has music for the past few years, often merging into a live, mostly collective performance. Her multimedia spatial installation made for Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020 consistently continues the trajectory of Marie’s work. In an oval field overgrown with natural grass, the visitors are surrounded by real and artistically rendered nature. The installation space is delimited by the growing base as well as by large-sized crocheted fabrics surrounding the viewers by an all-embracing wall with natural subjects. Woven by human hand, motifs of natural gods, trees of life and perhaps the mother of fertility appear. This space, which is silent for the most part of the day, providing a refuge from the outer world where one can hush the surrounding reality for a while and reflect on the relation between humans and nature, is filled with the monumental sound element of the installation in regular intervals. A polyphonic chorus alternates with recited poetry written by trans artist and filmmaker Lou Lou Sainsbury set to music and with bell ringing. The texts and music were largely created by Marie Tučková who invited other singers and collaborators to work on selected compositions. The lyrics resounding in the gallery space tell the stories of pain, of bleeding wounds and death, of desire to find the way to re-connection in unity and collectivity, of regret, apologies, love and rebirth, of continuity. Listening is a recurrent subject – listening to one’s soul, to the world around us, to each other. Attentive, deep listening seems to be the tool to solve the issues of our present. Mysterious, almost ethereal voices sing that if humankind learns to listen to the surrounding world, we will come to understand that our destructive behavior does not destroy the space for the lives of other organisms, towards which we can feel superior, but gradually destroys our world and ourselves; for the division between the cultural and technological human world and the natural world is a mere illusion.

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Jiří Žák

In his work, Jiří Žák addresses fictional and real micro-stories on the backdrop of political history, relativizing them and revealing their troublesome recesses. In his project created for Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020, the artist presents three short films verging on the docu-fiction genre interconnected by a spatial installation at PLATO library. The films were made over the past year during Žák’s exploration of the Czechoslovak and later Czech arms industry, particularly the export of Czech arms to Syria; as the original cooperation between socialist countries turned into a purely commercial relationship, almost indifferent to the changes of political regimes. The three films are interlinked by an octagonal table featuring archive photographs, drawings and other visual materials collected by Žák when looking into this little-known chapter of Czech history. Two tunnels lead from the table to two videos. The former, entitled It Was Probably Our Karel, She Said, tells the story of two brothers – one was involved in arms dealing, while the other, who happens to be a painter, confesses to the revenge of his brother’s murder. The latter film is a compilation of archive materials, documentary films from the 1960s and 1970s, showing the propagandistic rendering of Czechoslovak activities in Syria at the time. Žák retells the story lyrically in an intuitive and poetic way. The third film, almost twenty minutes long, entitled The Debt: Epilogue of a Long Friendship, is presented at PLATO cinema. Sales representatives of the Czech and Syrian government meet in the early 1990s to discuss the Syrian debt to the Czech government for a pre-revolutionary arms purchase. In the majestic interiors of the Congress Center, they become playthings, puppets of power systems fulfilling clearly defined roles, stepping out of them and denying them in almost surreal ways, playing with each other’s emotions and (physical) positions as if they were as light and fragile as the prisms of the giant glass chandelier hanging over their heads at the conference hall.

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Pracovní skupina pro výzkum mimosmyslové estetiky

The Extrasensory Aesthetics Research Working Group (Jan Kolský, Vojtěch Märc, Matěj Pavlík and Peter Sit) focuses on activities spanning artistic and scientific approaches and exploring liminal or paranormal phenomena such as telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, hypnosis, natural healing and water divination. For the exhibition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020, the Group created an installation featuring two new videos. First, the viewers can watch an instructional video introducing the topic, a kind of an instructions manual to give them clues for the main film. The main film then includes two case studies of extrasensory perception – portraits of two diviners. The first one, a retired deposit geologist, runs a water divination course, demonstrating the ways of searching for water and measuring the anomalies caused by human and natural activities. The second one, a graduate geophysicist, shows his method of surveying and eliminating geopathic zones. In his practice, he cooperates with national and private institutions, banks and agricultural facilities and also works on the construction of residential buildings. In conversation with these protagonists, the artists ask how to achieve harmony between the environment and humanity, what is normal and what is healthy. On a more general level, the film explores the possibilities of other than scientific approaches to the world.

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Alma Lily Rayner

For the exhibition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2020, Alma Lily Rayner created a locally specific project entitled Survival Manual with a focus on support platforms for people who have experienced various forms of oppression. Throughout the exhibition, the stage, the cinema and other spaces of PLATO gallery become a place for meeting, sharing, debate, a shared meal and a sleepover. Alma Lily Rayner cooperates with Ostrava-based activists, representatives of minority groups and non-profit organizations to create a space for the encounters of people with diverse experience but a shared interest: to be able to find support in difficult life situations and to collectively create alternatives to existing institutional care and help others based on their own experience. The project is processual and will transform and become complete throughout the exhibition. The opening included readings of texts that are essential for the stances of the participants. A video recording of the readings is now part of the installation. The public can also access the shared library of (feminist) texts and other gradual outputs of the project for which the space of the stage was adapted. The third chapter consists in a collective public debate followed by community cooking and a sleepover at the gallery. The exhibition will further feature a series of non-public meetings of the group. Survival Manual wants to mark the beginning of a long-term collaboration, collective support and activism.

Chapter One: Public Reading 

Participants: Andrea Tobolová, Katarína Slezáková (reading Jaye Johnson Thiel), Mirka Slívová, Jakub Černý (reading John Donne), Magdalena Šipka, Elena Gorolová, Martin Novák (reading Donnard White), Zuzana Fialová, Alex Sihelská, Radek Šabacký (reading Bell Hooks), Ladislav Fabian, Tess (reading Václav Hrabě), Anastázie Klemensová, Alex Vonsík and Alma Lily Rayner (reading Audre Lorde)

Chapter Two: Collective Library 

Participants: Lucie Rosenfeldová, Apolena Rychlíková, Otto Kouwen, Alex Sihelská, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Karina Kottová, Blanka Nyklová, Hana Janečková (Display), Lenka Vochocová, Marta Martinová (A2 cultural biweekly), Andrea Tobolová, Veronika Valkovičová, Sára Činčurová, Dávid Brna, Eliška Havlíková, Jakub Černý, Tess, Magdalena Šipka, Daniela Petrová, Mirka Slívová and others

Chapter Three: One-Day Meeting 

Hosts: Jakub Černý and Alma Lily Rayner

Guests: Blanka Nyklová, Andrea Tobolová, Zuzana Fialová, Martin Novák, Elena Gorolová, Alex Vonsík, Tess, Mirka Slívová and others

Chapter Four: Working Group 

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Co-organizer: PLATO
Partners of Jindřich Chalupecký Society:
Main Partners: Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Hall, J&T Bank
Main Media Partner: Czech Television
Partners: Brno City Municipality, State Cultural Fund of the Czech Republic, Prague 7, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Czech Centers, Arts and Theatre Institute, The Moravian Gallery in Brno, Center and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Prague, Residency Unlimited, MeetFactory, Papyrus Bohemia s.r.o., Biofilms, Fair Art
Media Partners: Artyčok.tv, Artmap, Artalk.cz, Radio Wave, A2, Art + Antiques, Art Viewer, Flash Art, Rail Reklam, GoOut
Partners of the JCHA 2020 Exhibition: Cyrkl, Graffneck, Jami s. r. o., Zlatá loď
Special Partners of the exhibition by Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz: Czech-German Future Fund, ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

The exhibition is held with financial support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Hall and J&T Bank. The exhibition is held under the auspices of Mr. Tomáš Macura, Mayor of the City of Ostrava.