Zeitschrift Umělec 2003/1 >> No Thanks: Prague Biennale Übersicht aller Ausgaben
No Thanks: Prague Biennale
Zeitschrift Umělec
Jahrgang 2003, 1
6,50 EUR
Die Printausgabe schicken an:
Abo bestellen

No Thanks: Prague Biennale

Zeitschrift Umělec 2003/1


Elisabeth Maas | kommentar | en cs

"The Prague Biennale was a major failure. This alone is something to be sad about, as it is important for a first Biennale to be at least honorable, as it was in Berlin a few years ago. Why? It is important for the establishment of the show. The general ideological idea of a regular show should be apparent right from the start, so that the audience, artists, curators and critics can imagine being part of it in the future, and therefore promote it. This promotion is more credible than a show that “announces itself as the major art event of the year, marking the difference from all the other big international exhibitions.” I think cities like Venice, Istanbul, Valencia and others can really be very satisfied about marking difference in quality.
I am not talking about the quality of the individual works, but the overall attitude of the organizers, who label themselves the most influential curators, and their magazine the world’s leading art magazine.
What is so bad about this attitude of announcing to the world that we are the champions and we are the leading, most influential curators and critics? The bad about it is that it’s not true. The bad about it in Prague is that it’s not as easy to prove as it is in Venice, Berlin or New York. In these cities the knowledge and experience of the audience has grown over the many years and through a lot of shows and publications. A normal interested visitor of the Venice Biennale can differentiate between the various curators, as their shows have appeared in different places, in different institutions, and the visitor has read their articles in one of the art magazines, and probably Flash Art International. This means that if the visitor is confronted by the claim of being a leading art magazine or the most influential curators, the visitor knows others who are better. Confronting an audience that is less informed and educated in the international scenery is not only arrogant, but also undemocratic.
The Biennale of Prague was intended to bring international art impulses to the city, in order to influence and educate young artists, art historians, curators and critics, inform the general public about contemporary international art and track some of the art tourists traveling from Venice to Basel to Prague. The international guests are not an issue; they do very well comparing the shows in Venice or Basel to this one in Prague. But what about those who cannot travel easily, or see it as an additional cookie for another nice holiday venue? These people see a show which looks in its representation like a quick and dirty artfair solution. The impression is that this is the way contemporary exhibitions are presented, curated and organized. We know this not to be true, but is it known by the everyday visitor? And then if people criticize this show for very good reasons, are they against contemporary art in general? No, they are just criticizing this way of making a presentation, this way of displaying arrogance and ignorance, combined with words like: “All the artworks at the Prague Biennale will be presented in a pluralistic mix. In this way Mission Possible, the Czech section, is open to other European nationalities and aims to rethink the identity of the Central Europe.”
We should all hope that this show does not represent or rethink the identity of Central Europe and that this does not represent the Czech notion of contemporary art. This wording and this representation mark out one problem, all the pathos and promotional wording lead to the opposite effect in the people’s minds: if that is contemporary art, if this is founding identity in Central Europe, who are we and what is our part and why do we need people who call themselves “the most influential”? Do we really need to import the Italian style of politics to Prague? If leftwing curators or critics are being hindered by the Berlusconi government, if Francesco Bonami does not hide his sympathy for Berlusconi, do we really need their conflicts dragged into Prague? As Mick Jagger put it in “Sympathy for the Devil”: Please allow me to introduce myself / I’m a man of wealth and taste / I’ve been around for a long, long year / stole many a man’s soul and faith.
On top of the pathetic promotion, there was the treatment of the curators and the artists by the organization. What do the invited international artists, many of whom footed all of the bills themselves, think about the quality of services provided for the artists? Best put, it goes like this: they think this is still the unorganized chaos of a developing country. The most influential curators are not responsible for these conditions; after one week they travel back to their home country. But the image within the international artist scene will remain skeptical. These profound problems will stay with the image of the Prague Biennale. The artists, gallerists, curators and critics from Prague will face this problem in their conversations with people around the globe.
Generally speaking, what could have been done differently? First, it could have been clear that an art magazine is an economically driven part of a publishing house, which constitutes a conflict of interest. Second, the method of inviting many curators and many artists is a way to put the economic and artistic responsibility into the hands of many, thereby keeping hands clean. If an artist is unsatisfied with the situation the curator will be held at fault, or the general facilities of the country, but not the disorganization of the show. The notion of inviting more than 200 artists sounds good, but on the other hand that means the budget does not allow for so many artists and their work, which leads to general budget problems for everyone. Perhaps you invite just 70 artists and three curators and the budget is spread out evenly.
The biggest problem is that the magic of Prague with its rich and colorful culture and history is not reflected in the show at all. If people come to Prague to see this show they come to Prague with many images, words and ideas in their heads, and they find nothing of this correspondence in the show. This is an opportunity lost to link the city and the artists to the international scene and to catch the longterm interest of international professionals. The show should have been developed from the city and with the cultural identity of the city at heart. It would have been easy to find interesting situations for international artists to work with the urban-cultural landscape. The knowledge of cultural history could have been the source for an international curator to invite artists to bridge Prague and global art.


Der Artikel ist bisher nicht kommentiert worden

Neuen Kommentar einfügen

Empfohlene Artikel

The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s
The editors of Umělec have decided to come up with a list of ten artists who, in our opinion, were of crucial importance for the Czech art scene in the 1990s. After long debate and the setting of criteria, we arrived at a list of names we consider significant for the local context, for the presentation of Czech art outside the country and especially for the future of art. Our criteria did not…
Ein Interview mit Mike Hollands Ein Interview mit Mike Hollands
„Man muss die Hand von jemandem dreimal schütteln und der Person dabei fest in die Augen sehen. So schafft man es, sich den Namen von jemandem mit Sicherheit zu merken. Ich hab’ mir auf diese Art die Namen von 5.000 Leuten im Horse Hospital gemerkt”, erzählte mir Jim Hollands. Hollands ist ein experimenteller Filmemacher, Musiker und Kurator. In seiner Kindheit litt er unter harten sozialen…
There’s 130 kilos of fat, muscles, brain & raw power on the Serbian contemporary art scene, all molded together into a 175-cm tall, 44-year-old body. It’s owner is known by a countless number of different names, including Bamboo, Mexican, Groom, Big Pain in the Ass, but most of all he’s known as MICROBE!… Hero of the losers, fighter for the rights of the dispossessed, folk artist, entertainer…
Magda Tóthová Magda Tóthová
Mit Anleihen aus Märchen, Fabeln und Science-Fiction drehen sich die Arbeiten von Magda Tóthová um moderne Utopien, Gesellschaftsentwürfe und deren Scheitern. Persönliche und gesellschaftliche Fragen, Privates und Politisches werden behandelt. Die Personifizierung ist das zentrale Stilmittel für die in den Arbeiten stets mitschwingende Gesellschaftskritik und das Verhandeln von Begriffen, auf…
04.02.2020 10:17
Wohin weiter?
offside - vielseitig
S.d.Ch, Einzelgängertum und Randkultur  (Die Generation der 1970 Geborenen)
S.d.Ch, Einzelgängertum und Randkultur (Die Generation der 1970 Geborenen)
Josef Jindrák
Wer ist S.d.Ch? Eine Person mit vielen Interessen, aktiv in diversen Gebieten: In der Literatur, auf der Bühne, in der Musik und mit seinen Comics und Kollagen auch in der bildenden Kunst. In erster Linie aber Dichter und Dramatiker. Sein Charakter und seine Entschlossenheit machen ihn zum Einzelgänger. Sein Werk überschneidet sich nicht mit aktuellen Trends. Immer stellt er seine persönliche…
Weiterlesen …
offside - hanfverse
Die THC-Revue – Verschmähte Vergangenheit
Die THC-Revue – Verschmähte Vergangenheit
Ivan Mečl
Wir sind der fünfte Erdteil! Pítr Dragota und Viki Shock, Genialitätsfragmente (Fragmenty geniality), Mai/Juni 1997 Viki kam eigentlich vorbei, um mir Zeichnungen und Collagen zu zeigen. Nur so zur Ergänzung ließ er mich die im Samizdat (Selbstverlag) entstandene THC-Revue von Ende der Neunzigerjahre durchblättern. Als die mich begeisterte, erschrak er und sagte, dieses Schaffen sei ein…
Weiterlesen …
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
Weiterlesen …
Wer hat Angst vorm Muttersein?
Wer hat Angst vorm Muttersein?
Zuzana Štefková
Die Vermehrung von Definitionen des Begriffes „Mutter“ stellt zugleich einen Ort wachsender Unterdrückung wie auch der potenziellen Befreiung dar.1 Carol Stabile Man schrieb das Jahr 2003, im dichten Gesträuch des Waldes bei Kladno (Mittelböhmen) stand am Wegesrand eine Frau im fortgeschrittenen Stadium der Schwangerschaft. Passanten konnten ein Aufblitzen ihres sich wölbenden Bauchs erblicken,…
Weiterlesen …
Bücher und Medien, die Sie interessieren könnten Zum e-shop
The book as a part of the exhibition LABOR DAY. Text by Martin Zet with foreword by Miloš vojtěchovský.
Mehr Informationen ...
11 EUR
13 USD
Contents:, Escorial, Škola šaků, Odchod herce, , From French original (manuscript) Escurial, L' Ecole des bouffons a Sortie de...
Mehr Informationen ...
4,83 EUR
This second part of the four-part publication project by the most playful Czech artist is dedicated to his companions in the...
Mehr Informationen ...
Red Dancer on Stage, 1988, acrylic painting on canvas, 102 x 86 cm, on frame
Mehr Informationen ...
2 200 EUR
2 572 USD


Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...

Zitat des Tages Der Herausgeber haftet nicht für psychische und physische Zustände, die nach Lesen des Zitats auftreten können.

Die Begierde hält niemals ihre Versprechen.



Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford

London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom
Open on appointment


7 West Street, Hastings
East Sussex, TN34 3AN
, United Kingdom
Open on appointment

Ivan Mečl
ivan@divus.org.uk, +44 (0) 7526 902 082

Kyjov 37, 407 47 Krásná Lípa
Czech Republic
+420 222 264 830, +420 602 269 888

Open daily 10am to 6pm
and on appointment.


Potsdamer Str. 161, 10783 Berlin

berlin@divus.cz, +49 (0) 1512 9088 150
Open on appointment.




Divus New book by I.M.Jirous in English at our online bookshop.