Magic Carpets

  • Bizarre transformations of cities


    The exhibition Urban Skanzen (Urban Open-Air Museum) in the Clam-Gallas Palace in Prague is about the city and its changing structure. Under communism, the backstreets of historic cities used to be dark and neglected, perhaps a little dangerous yet perversely enticing. When countries liberated themselves from one-party rule and cities opened up to different ideas and plans for the future, there was an explosion of diversity. Visitors from all sorts of places began to arrive in search of the elegance and charm of a city.
    Some people are fascinated by the history of a city, its architecture, the layering of different styles and the influences from all directions. Others come in search of cheap thrills and have no interest in the beauty of a place. Many cities have gradually become open-air museums pandering to the lowest taste. As the French author Benoît Duteurtre writes in his book La cité heureuse, by coincidence inspired in part by the development of Prague over the last few decades, the local populations have become virtually “employees” of the tourists, who arrive in their droves in search of meaningless pseudo-experiences.
    In this project, the curator Elis Unique reflects upon a current phenomenon that sees the meaning of travel transformed ad absurdum and the elegance of cities destroyed by the...