Window to the VVP AVU Video Archive

The generational and later multi-generational cabaret The Return of the Masters of Entertainment came to existence in the mid 1980s in Ostrava. It was inspired and influenced by the era of Normalization during which I and Jiří Dvořáček, Ivo Kaleta, Marek Pražák as well all of the other great protagonists of the cabaret were growing up. Black humor, irony and self-irony of the scenes and sketches drew from tendentious war movies, ideological and demagogic entertainments and pop music of the 1970s and 1980s. It was a bizarre spectacle based on the lack of artistic talent of the main actors who were staging awkward aesthetics of clumsiness they found in themselves or models such as Stalin, Hitler, Miki Volek (a Czech rock’n’roll singer), Gary Glitter, The Olympic music group. Czech pop music and TV shows, our parents, Czech art historians, poets and many others. Anyone could become an object of ridicule and disgrace.

The group was constantly growing or shrinking, the number of actors who participated in infrequent public appearances ranged from two to thirty (most populated were shows in Ostrava, in other cities the budget of the host was the decisive factor). In the 1990s the cabaret digested another generation of artists and the same happened in the beginning of this century. The last shows took place in 2007 in Wrocław’s gallery Awantgarda. Musical performances formed an integral part of the cabaret, the following artists were involved (listed chronologically): Vzůru do dolů, Míťa Dostál (an extraordinary bar singer and synthesizer player), Jam Gajdica, Počítače group, I love 69 popgejů. These were accompanied by sketches performed by Petr Lysáček and his guests.

At present, the group is somewhat dispersed, in a state of hibernation. Yet its stage manager Jiří Surůvka is thinking of a reincarnation of the cabaret (“The Return of The Return of the Masters of Entertainment”) and the last swan song which would naturally create a sense of unease. Embarassing situations are after all the motor of the cabaret and the ageless perpetuum mobile of humankind.

Jiří Surůvka, 2012

In The Window to the Archive programme, the AVU Research Center in Prague (VVP AVU) in conjunction with Artyč regularly releases works from the VVP AVU video archive (go to The selection for Artyč focuses on older works (materials from the end of the 20th century), works bordering on video art, film and documentation, or on purely documentary materials related to the recent development of Czech and Slovak visual art.


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