The exhibition where it would be a shame not to attend
6/5/2015 – 7/30/2015
Curator: Milan Salák
The exhibition where it would be a shame not to attend and a mistake to exhibit Curator Milan Salák 5April – 30 July 2015 In the last two centuries, presentation of free art has become the most traditional way in which the work of art is put back in the social context which earlier served as a condition for its origin. There are incomparably more moments when the environment affects the artists than the opportunities when the author has the possibility to return it and expect related benefits. Undoubtedly, the exhibition offers such an opportunity. It is thus understandable that if the author invests energy and means in their work, they care for every opportunity to present it. In well-renowned world institutions, there are fewer exhibition dates than the opportunities to present own work at the corridor of a municipal authority. It is not worth climbing peaks within general reach.
It is within the understandable interest of an artist to present their work in the best possible exhibition context. Apart from the art gallery’s prestige, another context-creating exhibition circumstance includes the curator’s reputation and the reputation of any potential co-exhibitors. The current exhibition theme is not insignificant for the author. Compared to other contexts mentioned above, as well as to the faith in sense and quality of their own work, the proclaimed content of the exhibition feat is not as important for the exhibiting artist. It is sufficient that the curator resonates with the exhibition theme and the artist trusts them. The curator (just as the artist) believes in the quality of their own work and the exhibition is the curator’s piece of work. The viewer has the possibility to assess the extent to which the trust of the artist and curator in their work was reflected in their capacity to see art.
In various spatial contexts, the viewer encounters in fact two exhibition types. There are exhibitions where they see a few works of art of a single artist and exhibitions where they see a single work of art of several artists. Together with the artefacts, the viewer also processes the curator’s work. At “solo” exhibitions, the curator’s role shrinks to the services provided to the exhibiting artist (which frequently shrinks to drafting the accompanying text). At “group” exhibitions, the artist serves the curator to articulate their own ideas. The artists do not get the raw deal, either, as their work is also visible. Those who watch are usually artists as well. The larger the exhibition, the more space for more potentially exhibiting artists, and the fewer of those left behind. Even though it seems that they may declare their ideas through the work of anyone, it is not the case. It is risky for a curator to rely on the work that has not been acknowledged in exhibitions. If the curator wishes to make sure that their work makes sense, they must offer credible names in the list of exhibiting artists. The more established artists are represented in the exhibition, the fewer members of the professional public will criticise the exhibition. Exhibiting well-established artist obviously has its limits. The principal ones include the financial intensity required to arrange for the participation of the biggest stars and their high workload. It also remains to be true that in the context of contemporary Czech art, such as the financial situation of artistic authorities or the nature of their work, it is relatively easy to promise wellestablished names in pdf invitations. If you mix stars with semi-stars, as well as those may still shine, nobody will complain! Unfortunately, gallery spaces remain currently too small to house all the exhibiting artists. The decision on whose work will or will not be included in the exhibition becomes a key aspect to the final evaluation of a group exhibition project.
The current exhibition in the Kvalitář Gallery thematises one of the fundamental, while not frequently mentioned, exhibition principles associated with the relationship of the professional public to group exhibitions and shows in which it has the possibility to participate. Within the project, the expected presentation of an artefact is reduced to introducing the author’s name. The selection of “participating” artists corresponds to the standard way in which curators approach similar shows. Well-established brands are complemented with less common names as the exhibition’s author finds it appropriate in terms of the concept or otherwise. The selection meets the predictable requirements of a representative show. The exhibited artist list might feature Vasil Artamonov, Alexey Klyuykov, Václav Magid, Jiří David, Vladimír Kokolia, Michal Pěchouček, Sláva Sobotovičová, Jiří Skála, Evžen Šimera, Ondřej Brody, Marek Meduna, Luděk Rathouský, Martin Polák and Lukáš Jasanský, Dominik Lang, Kurt Gebauer, Diana Vinklerová, Miroslav Pesch, Kateřina Vincourová, Markéta Othová, Veronika Bromová, Martin Mainer, Karel Balcar, Petr Malina, Daniela Baráčková, Jan Kadlec, Milan Mikuláštík, Jan Merta, Ivan Vosecký, Tamara Mojzes, Radek Macke, Pavel Sterec, Julius Reichel, and others. Missing are only those to whom the curator did not give a phone call. a largely unexpected refusal to “participate in the exhibition” was not accepted from anyone. And yet, those who are not at the exhibition still represent an overwhelming majority. All the refreshment prepared for the exhibition opening will be consumed to celebrate the exhibiting elite. But surely, not everyone who will be thirsty that evening will be satisfied. Nevertheless, one may assume that it will not at all affect the way in which the exhibition will be accepted.
The project entitled “The exhibition where it would be a shame not to attend and a mistake to exhibit” obviously has critical overtones. However, its author does not position himself “outside” the critically reflected group. As an artist, Milan Salák took part in the overwhelming majority of events initiated by him (as a curator). In general, taking the role of an artist and curator at the same time is perceived as something immoral. And yet, it needs to be said that the artists who participated in Milan Salák’s exhibitions accepted his approach. In the case of the exhibition project entitled “Sources of New Style” (Prague Castle Riding Hall, 2000), this was also accepted by the presented (and at the time young) theoreticians. It is only natural that his following suicidal call “not to exhibit in 2001” (Gallery of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, 2000) was not followed by nearly anyone. In addition, it is not really surprising that the group exhibition initiated by Milan Salák and most critically acclaimed by the broad artistic community was “Green” (Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, 1998), in which the sole “content” criterion for participation included the formal “greenness” of the exhibited works. The fact that the exhibition potentially urged the participating artists and the remaining visitors to other demands on the “show business” than the mere enjoyment of presentation of their work, and therefore logically higher demands on the benefit of curatorial projects, was and unfortunately still is forgotten. It seems that the desire to exhibit and to be seen still remains the most frequent thing what the exhibition has to offer. Regardless of the interest of the general public, it seems that it is a condition that most professionals prefer. Those who are not satisfied with such a state have the free choice to opt out or attack the system from the inside. In his curatorial projects, Milan Salák has chosen the second option in the long term.
As he is also an artist, it frequently puts him in a schizophrenic position. Anyway, this is also reflected in the fact that i am writing about my own activities using the third person plural. The following lines attempt to capture the reasons that led the curator to its implementation. Although it may definitely be said that within Czech exhibition scene, Milan Salák has prepared a number of critical projects, most of his exhibition activities have not go beyond exhibition standards in their nature, readily adapting to them as an author. Yet, the current exhibition attempts to expose some defects of the established exhibition approaches which are mostly overlooked. Nevertheless, at the same time, it is a press release, so you may expect that the press will eventually feature a shot from the installation and the list of exhibiting artists. The curator’s legitimate expectations that someone will try to review the exhibition in the context of his work to date are not usually fulfilled. Let us hope it will work out this time. Yet, it needs to be added that the last paragraph should not make it to the press.
recorded discussion: https://goo.gl/ObDxhD
recorded discussion: https://goo.gl/4UDb28
recorded discussion: https://goo.gl/z3dmuI
recorded discussion: https://goo.gl/KKrhnR