Critical Series

In this video Artyčok.TV examines Artbanka with a critical eye. Artbanka defines itself as being a non-profit project that helps young artists to get their foot in the door of this competitve art world. Under closer inspection one discovers the project is not as charitable as it first appears. After purchasing young Czech and Slovak artists’ work, Artbanka rents or lends the work to individuals and companies. Artbanka has closely colaborated with City Gallery Prague, and this video scrutinises the two institutions’ relationship through a series of interviews that highlights their somewhat sketchy partnership. Milan Bufka, director of City Gallery Prague tells the story of how the gallery had a Baroque building that was in disrepair. He found this site to be ususable as a traditional gallery space, neither did he want massive repair costs, so he decided to present comtemporary art, and that is how Artbanka began to occupy that building and present young artist’s work.

Artyčok.TV allows all parties a chance to express their own opinions regarding this matter, including Petr Šec co-founder of the allusive Artbanka. Šec defends the critics and art historians attacks, while at the same time never really revealing anything. Tomáš Pospisyzl, theoretician and curator makes an interesting observation – that many projects deliberately make their intentions unclear to the public and it’s critics. He also in an implicit way comments on City Gallery Prague and Artbanka’s strategy, where one is state funded and the other appears to be non-profit, but is in fact commercial. The “non-profit” institution can ask for and receive funds from the public budget. But with it’s intentions ambiguous, one expects that Artbanka could be profiting from the public’s budgets, as they also sell art. In comparison, Artbanka institutions that reside in Australia and Canada are state agencies, whose agenda is to create a state art collection. It has a public legal status not a commercial one like Artbanka.

Interviews with a few pedagogues from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, were conducted. They were asked about their role as Artbanka’s Guarantees. Jiří David does not consider himself a part of Artbanka, he informs us that he recommends a young, talented artist, but ultimately it is Artbanka’s choice on whether to use them or not. Whereas, Jiří Černický highlights the positives that the Artbanka project brings, which is that this institution attempts to support young art and academies, and can help a budding artist make it in this dog eat dog business.

Jiří Liška, City Hall representative, and Milena Bartlová also picked up on this inconspicuous issue concerning the funding of this project. Liška makes the valid point that no proper rental contract was ever signed, instead there was only a cooperation contract. Therefore, with this in mind there is a high possibility that public funding indirectly supports a commercial project. Bartlová notes that the fact public money is used to fund this commendable activity is not itself condemnable. However, we must ensure that whenever money is used from the public budget to fund these projects – there must be total clarity – in regards to the choice of artists and the use of this money. Due to Artbanka’s unclear intentions, this has raised suspicion, doubt, and perhaps even paranoia in the art community.


3x comments “ARTBANKA”

  1. fra says on09. May. 2012:

    mnichovska artbanka (artotheka) je vlastnena mestem !

  2. Abc says on17. May. 2012:

    Interesting… I had my doubts, but it seems the only problem is the self-definition of Artbanka. They need to state it very clearly that it is a private institution with a commercial interest. Then it is a very worthy undertaking which deserves praise. Unfortunately the fact that Artbanka presents itself like a non-profit altruistic organization creates a very wrong perception. Now they just seem to be a leech sucking public money, with zero transparency. And no-one can tell the truth, which opens space for speculation.

  3. jacob says on21. May. 2012:

    velmi zajimava situace..
    (grammar alert: uplnej konec – rozhovory se natacelY)

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