The World We Live In?

The World We Live In?

Combining the approaches of exhibition and theater, the site-specific project presents the ideas of artists from eighty years ago, confronting them with the situation of contemporary artists to whom the multilayered planetary crisis and the need for art as an active factor are a strong basis for creative thinking.

Visual artists linked to Group 42 were around thirty when the group was formed, still had no name and was rather a circle of friends who would meet regularly. They were as old as the finalists of Jindřich Chalupecký Award today. Although most of them gained the status of classics of Czech visual art, in the 1940s, they were not among established artists. They would meet in their apartments, talk and show their work to each other. The war experience of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the sense of failure of modern civilization as a whole sparked their urgent need to approach art and life in a radically different way; though they didn’t know how yet.

There are too many questions to be asked. Which are to be answered? Can one be engaged in all respects? What neurosis is provoked by the rejection of indifference? What dialogue can we lead with ourselves and with the world and what will come of it? What about the limitations of human activity and empathy, and the dramatic conflict between the declared and the subjectively experienced? The text of the performance, seeking at least some answers to these questions, will be mostly a compilation of reflections by contemporary visual artists, philosophers, theorists and authors whom we have asked to respond to the legacy of Group 42 theorist, critic and curator Jindřich Chalupecký, in particular to his canonic text The World We Live In from 1940.

Dear Jindřich,

I know you lived a hard life and wrote The World We Live In at the beginning of one of the greatest tragedies of modern history, the Second World War. I know you are writing from another world; a world which is essentially linked to mine and from which my current reality ensues, but also a world from which my generation is becoming alienated. What is funny about all that though is that your work, along with the work of Jan Patočka, hovers above my generation as a memento of the great moments of Czech art and culture. While I cannot say I have been enormously influenced by your works, I still had to read them, study them, discuss them. Your unceasing effort to put us in touch with the chasm of being, the inexpressible, the rift, the places that cannot be described by words, mutated into a certain ideal which was used to measure the quality of artworks for decades. Although you and your generation wanted to expand the perception of human experience and situatedness and bring back suppressed dimensions, your thinking gradually started suppressing new possibilities of perceiving the world…

Citation by Jan Bělíček

Created by Jindřich Chalupecký Society in collaboration with …příští vlna/next wave… and Hotel Opera.

Held with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, Prague City Hall and State Culture Fund of the Czech Republic.