Revisiting a Czech Artist’s Collages of Human Cruelty
A highly evocative record of that fateful year is captured in a series of 66 “evidence” collages by Jiří Kolář, collectively titled Diary 1968, and all currently on view at the Kinsky Palace, part of Prague’s National Gallery, in the city’s Old Town Square. They comprise the main thread of a solo exhibition of Kolář’s work, Grimace of the Century. These individual collages are are a constant presence throughout the show, hung in sequence on a wall constructed especially for them, that weaves through much of the exhibition space.
"The utopic order of the Bauhaus school was to prove insufficient when confronted with external totalitarian forces and an internal patriarchy. Bang reminds us that if its vision of a total, equalizing architecture was heartfelt in theory, its egalitarian notions could not (or would not) be enacted in practice.
With a furtive look over the shoulder, Bang urges her reader to consider a collective past in order to account for our own catastrophic moment. The penultimate poem, in which a 'a man with / moronic orange hair' appears, registers a plaintive warning: 'In November we inched closer to the ledge / over which one only falls once.'"
“In the broadest of terms, Theory of Vision, by the Polish artist Władysław Strzemiński (1893–1952), could be described as an expansive overview of centuries of European painting styles. But when it was first published—posthumously in 1958—the poet Julian Przyboś, in a preface to the book, maintains that the texts comprising it do not offer merely a sweeping art historical survey for art students that dictate how they ought to paint. He writes, ‘[This] is not a painting textbook; it does not teach the reader how to become a painter. The theory teaches an understanding of the evolution of man’s visual consciousness.’”
Between Reader and Writer: An Interview with Dubravka Ugrešić
"This time last year, I was living in Berlin, where I spent an inordinate amount of my time sleeping. The days in fall and winter there look far too much like night: the sun rises late and sets early and doesn’t really do much shining in between. The sheer number of hours I spent in bed was something I felt perpetually guilty about, until one day, a friend sent me an excerpt from a novel she was reading, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, by Dubravka Ugrešić."
"Finding Lucia in the archive was like catching a glimpse of myself. I took to her story personally; she became my companion as I mined a historical record that has not deigned to preserve many of history's women. [...] I read through her diaries, written as a young girl in Prague, and then later, as a woman at the Bauhaus, married to one of the school’s most esteemed 'masters.' And I looked through her photographs, taken of and by herself. I read her letters.
I’d stumbled upon her and looked into her life; an accidental intimacy."
"Look into the lake, Braid algae with your mouth and down below I fetch you, I lay you down in a paper airplane. And it flies…"
translated from the slovak
in molossus (february 2016)
the magic and risk of a handwritten letter
"But this thing that I find so enticing in reading letters, is precisely what makes writing them so risky. If letter writing is ultimately a work of fiction in which we construct ourselves in the way we would like to be perceived by our recipients, that control is relinquished the moment we let go of what we have written. Our careful construction is turned into vulnerability, at the mercy of the recipient’s interpretation (or worse, inattention)."
'To Reach Over the Border': An International Conversation between the Bauhaus and Devětsil
In the spring of 1923, Walter Gropius (1883-1969), who was then the director of the Bauhaus and was to become one of the most famous architects of the Twentieth Century, wrote from Weimar to Karel Teige (1900-1951) in Prague: ‘It makes me very happy that I have found in you a contact with the Czech architecture movement.’Teige was at the forefront of a cohort of young artists, writers, architects, and actors who had founded the group Devětsil in December of 1920. The circle employed a variety of strategies—including publication, lectures, exhibitions, and travel—to spread its influence both at home, and abroad, and the mid-decade correspondence between Teige and Gropius is a telling indicator of the success of this exchange.
Reynek lived the majority of his life at his family’s farmstead in the village of Petrkov on the Bohemian-Moravian border, and many of his poems included in this collection center around the details of rural life. Dogs and cats and goats and geese roam the pages. There is a “white ox in the yard” and one finds “cobwebs wound round the empty swallows’ nest.” Even at the site of hearth and home, the day of rest requires a cat for comfort, a Sunday’s stillness complete only with “a book and kitten grey / beneath my hand.”