Compilation of Realities by

by 5. 3. 2023

During two sweltering weeks at the turn of May and June 2019, Prague saw a programme put together by the Magic Carpets platform, whose activities cross European borders, facilitating artistic and cultural mobility within Europe. This mobility gives artists a chance to respond to the shared cultural and public space within the confines of the continent and its real and imagined borders. This space finds itself constantly undergoing change and demanding our participation on cultural, civic, political and other levels. On the partially abstract cultural level, it is a space of encounters, communication, dialogue, sharing, presentation, perception and observation. According to the programme’s curator, Elis Unique, this event is a “discussion on a broader public space”.

The exhibition programme itself took place in the centre of Prague, an area which has seen a number of changes in the preceding decades. Such changes include the uncompromising tourist business, gentrification, investments into commercial spaces and the related redevelopments and demolitions and plans for the transformations of the metropolis which take into consideration financial sources more than the city’s civilians in their diversity.

The programme’s theme – public space – is an extremely important topic today, one belonging not only to the fields of art and culture, but to all of society. In fact, it concerns the future operation of society, its centre and periphery, whether these be class-based or geographical. This theme might be considered by some to be worn out and over-done. But quite the contrary: today, we physically feel a veritable scale of societal transformations which affect us personally in our individual quotidian lives. Magic Carpets’ programme in Prague wants to put this contemporary reality of the city and society back into our centre of attention, personal engagement and participation. 

Part of Compilation of Realities took place in an emerging underground space at Kampus Hybernská, in the very heart of tourist Prague. The exhibition by Jolana Havelková, Michal Kindernay and Deana Kolenčíková, Tereza Bonaventurová, Pavel Karous, and the Intermedia Studio at FAVU VUT in Brno was precisely installed in the historical cellar. The individual works, some of which were of a multimedia character, worked with the topics of specific sites, people, visual space and the logic of power. Performances and presentations by artists and researchers working on these topics (Kurt Gebauer, Tomáš Ruller, Pavel Karous, Petr Vašát and others) were integral components of the programme. Kampus also saw a performative addition to the programme running in parallel to the exhibition – Darina Alster’s magical staged performance String Figures emphasised the parallel worlds of politics and true being. The programme also reflected community questions of the present, both in the programme at Jedna dva tři Gallery, with the Mothers Artlovers collective, and in the A(VOID) Floating Gallery.

Another part of the exhibition programme took place in the Classical-period building Kasárna Karlín, a former barracks near the centre of Prague. Its former pool hosted an exhibition by Benjamin Tomasi and Milan Mikuláštík. Mikuláštík works with our civilisation’s archeological material, using references to social developments and mass and digital culture. The military pool was covered with two thousand stickers, each of them bearing an icon of a rubbish bin as found in computer environments. His installation, Bin Pool, was completed by a static projection of the recently published first real photograph of a black hole. In the upper part of the pool space, Benjamin Tomasi, a Magic Carpets resident, realised an installation reminiscent of Data Spa and freely connected to Mikuláštík’s installation: a prototype of Trump’s wall on the Mexican border was presented, together with ambient audio and further performative accompaniment. The image of the border wall and the audio were sourced from the internet, where the author recycled available internet data, which thus represented – following his selection – the significant social and political questions of the present. 

The programme in Karlín was based on information sharing, on history and therefore archeology, including digital sources and their further manipulation with a view towards the reality of contemporary social problems. 

The exhibitions, performances, and presentation-discussions titled Compilation of Realities were unambiguously focused on the real topics of the cultural and artistic space of today’s Prague. The composition of the entire project was complicated, and certain forms of artistic engagement are still in a process of formation – even as finished artworks. This is a process of confronting both the reality of today’s everyday life and the general public with cultural and artistic spheres. It is a pan-European phenomenon – the formation consists of the current/future cultural and artistic scene searching for its position within the rapid- ly changing conditions of European society. These topics are partially taboo, but Compilation of Realities gives them the form of real questions and answers.

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Lexa Peroutka