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Prague Exhibition Project »SPACE CAMP«, 2004

Idea and concept

What does »exhibition space« mean? How is it defined and perceived in society? For centuries museum rooms, private collections and galeries served solely for the presentation of works of art. Only at the end of the 1960s did the exhibition space itself become a topic for artistic debate. Since then, exhibitions have been taking place more and more outside the traditional exhibition space - in private rooms, warehouses, cellar rooms or clubs. Still today there are numerous currents in art which are concerned with trying to cope with space (setting). More than ever the spatial context determines and influences works of art in their formal or conceptual approaches. As a habitable area the room has always meant protection and safety. A room can also be interpreted more abstractly - as simply a form - which only through contact with it becomes something concrete.

The focal point of the exhibition »SPACE CAMP« is the artistic engagement and interaction with the rooms of this Prague basement vault. Artists with different approaches will meet for this project and deal with the urban and architectural conditions of the location. The palette of works will range from video installations to conceptual intrusion on the space. The works will be mostly designed for this space and produced on site. The possibility to not only present pieces but also to work artistically in a Prague exhibition room presents both a particular stimulus and a challenge for each of the participants. Not only will the occupation with the physical space be to the fore but also the social and historical backdrop of the location will be of importance to the artists.

In contrast to other large cities, Prague is virgin soil for young, international artists. Prague's historical circumstances alone make it incomparable with other Western cities. Prague's cultural landscape, which is still developing, arouses the curiosity of the artist. From this came the idea to undertake a project with Czech colleagues, beginning with a combined exhibition in Prague. We plan, in continuation of the »SPACE CAMP« project, to organise more exhibitions with Czech and international artists in foreign countries.

The artists

Tomaž Kramberger builds installations in which he transfers the urban environment into the exhibition space. In doing so, both areas, urban environment and exhibition space, become for him objects to be examined.
Seb Koberstädt and Martin Pfeile take a somewhat different approach. They use industrial materials which they find on site and employ them instead for room installations. Their pieces work as interior design objects but remain functionless. For Patrick Rock, utopian architecture and its associated ideology play a major role. He transforms this - often humourfully - into sculptures and objects. Robert Barta derives his ideas directly from the space and works by encroaching upon the substance of the building. With his video installations, Jakub Moravek expands the exhibition space through the use of projections. Through movement the observor determines the course of the film and is thereby integrated into the work. Klara Hobza takes the idea of space a step further. She concerns herself with social and political relations and inserts them into a fictional, personal framework, which she stages in the public arena.

The space

The Prague street "Na Prikope" (The Ditch) emerged from the filling-in of the old town's ditches in 1760, and from this derives its name. In 1781 the street was planted with birch trees and after that became known as "The Old Avenue". Between 1839 and 1870 the street was called after one of Prague's highest aristocrats, Count František Antonin Kolowrat. The count owned a palace, the gardens of which led onto the street "Na Prikope". Count Kolowrat, who took part in the foundation of the National Museum, was the great-grandfather of the present owner of the building, Tomaš František Kolowrat.
Eventually, in the year 1870, the street was again given its original name "Na Prikope". The house at number 17 was built by Tomaš Kolowrat's grandfather, Leopold Kolowrat, between 1181 and 1884. The old vaulted cellar served originally as a storage area for coal and beer for the well-known tavern "U Piskacku". In the course of the dispossession in the early 1950s, the tavern was renamed "South Czech Restaurant". The famous Cafe "Continental" was also established on the first floor of the building at this time. This posh cafe was known colloquially as the "Jewish Casino" since it was frequented predominantly by wealthy Prague Jews. Jindrich Kolowrat (1897-1996), Tomas Kolowrat's father, eventually extended the house to four floors and installed an elevator. The present owner, Tomas Frantisek Kolowrat, reconstructed and modernised the house and the vaulted cellar.

Each of the participating artists pursues a different approach in his work. By using a common venue the various approaches will connect into a thematic ensemble.

Translation: Martina Walsh

www : space-camp.org
Venue : Cellar of Tomas Frantisek Kolowrat - Na Prikope 17, 110 00 Praha 1, CZ
Date : Construction in October. Exhibition throughout November 2004.
Curatorial advisory : display gallery
Organisation : Robert Barta
Cooperation partners : display gallery
Project Support : Goethe-Institute Prague, FCCA

Participating artists :

Zbněk Baladrán (CZ)
Robert Barta (D)
Jiří Černický (CZ)
Emanuel Fanslau (D)
Klara Hobza (USA)
Jan Kadlec (CZ)
Seb Koberstädt (D)
Tomaž Kramberger (D)
Tony Labat (USA)
Leonardogillesfleur (USA/ARG)
Jakub Moravek (D)
Martin Pfeifle (D)
Patrick Rock (USA)
Milan Salák (CZ)
Tomáš Svoboda (CZ)
Tomáš Vaněk (CZ)

»SPACE CAMP«, © 2005 - imprint