Curatorial History of Contemporary Art

In the 1990ies, Marek Pokorný dealt with contemporary art primarily as a critic. He worked in different periodicals such as Prostor, Lidová demokracie, MF Dnes and Týden.

In 1995 he founded the Detail magazine oriented on visual culture, where he worked as an editor in chief untill the magazine finished in 2000. He regards his former activity as an attempt to create a platform for mediation of current views on fine art. He considers Sešity pro teorii a kritiku (Theory and Critique Books) as the Detail successor on a different qualitative level. Between 2003 and 2004 he shortly worked as a leading curator in the Brno House of Arts. From 2004 to 2012 was managing the Moravian Gallery in Brno. As a professional critic he prepared several exhibitions – „Čistý zisk“ (Net Profit) in the MXM Gallery (1995), „Česká AbstraHce“ in the Václav Špála Gallery (1996) or „Na co myslíš ty?“ (What are you thinking about?“ in the Prague City Gallery (2000). At the close of 1990ies he prepared a set of exhibitions for the foyer of the Chamber of Deputies in Prague. He says he was primarily guided by the world enlightenment idea. Television has been shooting interviews with the members of parliament in the foyer and Marek Pokorný intended to change the situation in which the TV viewers were mediated poor art through the tv screens. In the course of time he got rather concerned with the institutional art operation issues. In his report he criticised Czech characteristic „hybrids“ – institutions with an unclear statute where particular and business interests pervade a declared universalistic mission. He finds problematic the institutions’ inherent instability caused by conflict of mutually contrast functions that do not have to be necessarily illegitimate. He also criticised the „naive“ approach of free-lance curators who consider the choice of expositional institution secondary. Example of such naive view is the curator conception of Jiří Ševčík – a curator is someone who provides „software“ for galleries and expositional halls representing „hardware“. He presents his activity in the Moravian Gallery as an attempt to set clear operation rules that are in practice easy to follow as they reflect financial and political reality and at the same time they are explicitly determined which results in an institution with a predictable behaviour.

He believes that royalty standards and an institutional service for exhibiting artists should be part of it as well. He hoped that if the Moravian Gallery started to function in this way, the other galleries would have to follow the model sooner or later. But he admits that this hope has not come true yet.

Josef Ledvina

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