Critical Series

Artyčok Tv presents a documentary in two parts called GASK

In early May, shortly after Artyčok TV published their first critical report about the Artbank project, the governor of the Central Bohemian region David Rath was arrested by the police. At that time we had been working for several weeks on a new critical report dealing with the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region. The governor’s arrest made it impossible for us to get his opinion on this issue, but on the other hand we suddenly found ourselves in a completely different situation when a two- year-old issue gained an unexpectedly current dimension. Apart from the clearly defined roles of all participants we could also notice during our interviews doubt, insecurity and unanswered question in their faces whereas other times we would just come across ostentatious confidence or self-examinating balancing. The current situation of GASK was foreshadowed by an almost forgotten event from 2009 when the recently elected governor of the Central Bohemian region David Rath dismissed the head of an important regional institution whose seat was in Prague then without giving any reason. Although it later came out that this intervention of power also had another quite understandable reason (newly reconstructed Jesuit College in Kutná Hora and an alleged unwillingness of the director Ivan Neumann to move the gallery from Prague to Kutná Hora), it did not meet sympathy of the artists. Petitions were being signed and disagreement was expressed but it all fell quiet after a while. Finally Jan Třeštík was appointed the new director of the gallery, he set up a new team of co-workers and the gallery started working in the Jesuit College in Kutná Hora. Everything took a turn for the better and the art community were contented. But only until the new manager Jana Šorfová was appointed within public selection procedures at the beginning of 2011. Our report deals with this event and its impact on the institution. Through interviews with all the participants we aimed at clarifying the circumstances and the course of the selection procedure and at the same time we tried to point out also more general issues. The resulting mosaic of different and often opposed views related to the same event can appear a partly absurd story lacking clear outlines and sometimes even logic. The distorted view of the whole case caused by contradictory statements of the participants, their unclear motivations and incomprehensible behaviour in a place without clearly set rules may seem burdensome. That is why we find it very important to show how such organizations work at present. With view to public selection procedures which are currently in progress, our report could be seen at least as a case study. Taking over leading positions in cultural institutions by managers without relevant knowledge has recently become a significant trend in our country. Besides Jana Šorfová, the most striking example is probably Vladimír Rösel in the lead of the National Gallery in Prague. If a cultural institution is lead by a professional who is not successful in keeping a balanced budget, he can still rely on his financial manager or accountant consultants. But if the institution is lead by a manager without necessary knowledge of the branch and the context given, we have no other option than to hope he will not try to outline the institution and its program just by the rules of a profitable business. In our opinion a public institution should not only boast an effective economy but primarily offer top quality service to the public.

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