Prague Art Biennale “Matter of Art” paperwork conflict crimes | EUROtoday

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Mit prominenten ukrainischen Namen – Kateryna Lysovenko, Yuri Leiderman, Yevgenia Belorusets, Nikita Kadan, die alle in der Vergangenheit auf der Kunstbiennale in Venedig anzutreffen waren — lockt die von der Initiative veranstaltete, relativ junge Kunstbiennale „Matter of Art“ Besucher in die wichtigste Kunstinstitution der Tschechischen Republik, die Prager Nationalgalerie. Noch bis zum 29. September findet dort die Kunstschau statt, deren Titel sich als „Frage der Kunst“, aber auch als „Materie der Kunst“ übersetzen lässt. Auf dem Ausstellungsplakat schieben sich cartoonhafte Symbole zwischen die Buchstaben: eine Blume, ein Hammer, eine Getreideähre, eine erhobene Faust – was wohl die revolutionäre Stoßrichtung der Schau veranschaulichen soll.

Die Texte zur kostenlos zu besuchenden Ausstellung, konzipiert von dem im Wiener Exil lebenden Belarussen Aleksei Borisionok und der Ungarin Katalin Erdődi, geben sich hip und dilettantisch. Die beiden Kuratoren, so die Pressemitteilung, interessierten sich für soziale Veränderung auf dem Land sowie für das Erbe und die Zukunft der Arbeiterbewegungen; sie wollten Geschichten von Widerstand aus unterschiedlichen, aber miteinander verwobenen Perspektiven erzählen.

Bedrohlicher Brunnen: die Installation des Exilbelarussen Uladzimir Hramovich „People of Salt“.
Threatening fountain: the installation of the exiled Belarusian Uladzimir Hramovich “People of Salt”.Jonáš Verešpej

In the main exhibition venue, the Trade Fair Palace in the Holešovice district, built in 1928 and part of the National Gallery, with its flat glass facades, visitors are overwhelmed by the exhibition architecture. In the hall, which is as simple as it is sophisticated and functionalist, electricity pylons electrically connect the individual artistic installations. In combination with the rhythmic sounds produced by some of the art objects, the impression of a huge, playful art factory is created.

Here, Belarusian Uladzimir Hramovich presents an idiosyncratic fountain sculpture called “People of Salt”: Brown water bubbles out of rusty worker's helmets, straight curved sickles are attached like bayonets to metal spears, from which side plates with reddish salt crystals protrude. The title is reminiscent of the uprising of workers in the salt mines in the Belarusian city of Salihorsk during the failed Belarusian revolution of 2020. After the peaceful mass protests against the permanent rule of Alexander Lukashenko were violently suppressed, many, including Hramovich, had to leave the country.

Concentrated strength of the weak: Pınar Öğrenci created the installation “Resisting Forest” from picket sticks.
Concentrated power of the weak: Pınar Öğrenci created the set up “Resisting Forest” from picket sticks.Jonáš Verešpej

In her 2019 video set up “Resisting Forest,” Turkish-born Kurd Pınar Öğrenci reveals how villagers on the Turkish Black Sea coast prevented the development of two thermal energy vegetation that threatened to destroy their homeland. As a tribute to the protests, throughout which the ladies made noise with picket sticks, Öğrenci hung forty picket sticks within the corridor like an upward-floating formation. In the movies, the ladies speak about their battle, which can be illustrated with archive materials.

Kateryna Lysovenko's works are additionally convincing of their simplicity: she paints a dangling canvas with tremendously enlarged archaeological finds that Russia stole from Ukraine, but in addition from Kazakhstan or the Russian republic of Dagestan within the Caucasus and delivered to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg – beneath the Tsar, throughout Soviet occasions and within the more moderen previous.

Anti-Israel leaflets within the former assortment level for Jews

But the artwork pageant is producing annoyingly weak works and utilizing pseudo-naive curatorial jargon. In a video piece, Berlin-based Elske Rosenfeld reads out statements and manifestos from numerous political teams within the GDR from round 1989/90. The Czech-Slovak collective björnsonova has created a studying nook with plenty of fluffy cloth. Since “many things that we learn at school, at work and in state institutions are wrong,” they are saying, one ought to take a break there to discover the “unknown world of magic, feminism and creativity.”

Also of ostensible significance is the inventive intervention that was arrange on the opening of the Biennale by the Czech collective stopgenocidevgaze as an indication of solidarity in opposition to the “genocide in Gaza”: an olive tree in a pile of earth that’s speculated to wither by the top of the artwork present. The reference to the atrocities in Gaza is undoubtedly official. But the group had already thrown flyers with a map of “historical Palestine” within the small corridor of the Messepalast reverse throughout a disruptive motion in March, on which crimson dots illustrated the “Zionist colonization” of the “Israeli project of settler colonialism”. During the National Socialist occupation, the Messepalast served as a group level for Jews from Bohemia and Moravia earlier than they have been transported to focus camps. It is an ominous signal when, of all locations, all Israelis are defamed as “settler colonialists” and the bloodbath of Jews on October seventh is relativized. The flyers from stopgenocidevgaze additionally rephrased Adorno’s assertion and declared that it was “barbaric to make art after Gaza.”

The second exhibition venue is positioned twenty kilometers west of Prague within the village of Lidice, which, like no different place, represents the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. After Reinhard Heydrich, one of many primary architects of the Holocaust, was fatally wounded in an assassination try by two non-commissioned officers of the Czechoslovak military in exile in June 1942, the whole village was razed to the bottom and its inhabitants worn out in retaliation for alleged involvement within the assault. A rose backyard, monuments and a museum commemorate this atrocity – the carefully trimmed garden brings to thoughts how a complete village was worn out.

A brand new Lidice was constructed subsequent door. The Lidice artwork assortment is positioned there, which comprises works by distinguished artists equivalent to Siegmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, donated in 1968 by the Berlin gallery proprietor René Block. Richter's portray, primarily based on {a photograph}, is of his “Uncle Rudi”, who fought within the Second World War. As a curatorial intervention, the Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan has hung a photographic work by Yaroslav Futymsky, exhibiting a courtyard gate on a village avenue painted with the Cyrillic letters “DE TI”. On the one hand, it’s the Russian phrase for “children”, which was typically written on buildings in Ukraine – for instance in entrance of the theater in Mariupol – to enchantment to the invaders' remaining humanity. But the inscription can be learn in Ukrainian as “Where (are) you”, as a query of the place one stands whereas these crimes are happening.

The curator's textual content for “Matter of Art” states that failure can be a part of the “fight for change”. Perhaps, regardless of some sturdy works, the artwork present merely took on an excessive amount of, with its concentrate on the working class, Gaza, the conflict in Ukraine and the Nazi bloodbath in Lidice.