Čtyři dny | Four days

Places of Act 2010

Site specific project for former Institute of Folk Art Production (ÚLUV), Národní 36, Prague 1

Exhibitions, forum of the future, site performance, videoart, architectural lectures, pro city walks – commented tours of exhibitions, building and its surroundings, film, art bar and others.

People often ask me how we found a certain place. How we discovered it. I guess it’s because the search for places has become a part of our lives. When I walk around Prague, I look up. I am obsessed with the idea of finding places, and that is why all houses with broken windows, abandoned and neglected, have found a place on the festival map of our search.

And then it happens. We enter into a new space and it is like being on a first date. All emotions leave a deep impression and stay with us. The dust, the air; a light switch last touched by someone 20 years ago, a glass window pane from 1936, the bulletin board from the last shift of workers. Found artifacts, hidden and dirty, furtively taken away as a memento from this first meeting, the first sensations in this space, the sense of tension, wandering and getting lost in a new space.

Each found building comes with its stories, the stories of the people who worked or lived here. The father of artist Jan Šerých worked here and made an exact drawing showing where his office was. Art historian Rostislav Švácha was the director of the Odeon publishing house, and the last pre-dissolution director, Lenka Žižková, remembers the fateful end of ÚLUV and Krásná jizba. Architect Osamu Okamura tries to open the unique ceiling in the passageway so that we can see the sky, and poet Petr Borkovec seeks out poems about embroidery and the folk spirit. These are personal encounters connected with a place, ties and relationships without which our project would be entirely unimportant. I am personally happy with the place we have found (in the beginning and the end, you are always a little alone with a place). The building/being slowly comes to life, gradually makes itself at home. During preparations, there are dozens of artists here, later there will be audiences, returning meaning to the building and helping to complete it.

What are we offering for you to see at the former Center for Folk Art Production? A combination of two spaces – physical and mental.

The physical space is here in the former ÚLUV building on Národní třída – constructed in 1936 by architect Oldřich Starý as the House of Artistic Industry for the Union of Czechoslovak Art. Many important personalities worked here, including Jan Kotěra, Josef Gočár, Ladislav Sutnar, and many others. The building housed a Krásná jizba (Beautiful Home) outlet and was the headquarters of the Družstevní práce (Work Cooperative) publishing house. The Center for Folk Art Production was founded after World War II in an attempt at promoting folk art. We will look at all these historic eras in detail in our lectures and walking tours. The invited artists, however, will respond to the present – the building’s window displays and the public space of Národní třída.

The second, mental, space troubles us just a little. It is the subject of the exhibition “One Day You Will Lose It All” and the Future Forum. We ask how to live so that those who come after us will still be able to enjoy what we have left them? And what will we find at the end of our own personal story?

Once the festival ends, we will begin looking for another place, and will attempt to answer several vitally important questions about our future. It is one and the same thing. Our attitude to life is site specific.

Denisa Václavová