Curatorial History of Contemporary Art

!!!The lecture is not here, but in the archive of Czech TV, czech version only…!!!

Jak jsme zkoušeli po pádu komunismu dohánět kulturní svět

Ludvík Hlaváček studied art history at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University. In the 1970s he worked in the Institute of Art History of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. After signing Charta 77 he earned his living until 1989 as a manual worker. In 1992 he was authorised to establish the Soros Center for Contemporary Arts (SCCA). The Hungary-born American benefactor George Soros presented his support of this institution as a contribution to the development of democratic principles in the post-communist society. In 1999 the Soros Center for Contemporary Art transformed into the Foundation and Center for Contemporary Arts and Ludvík Hlaváček is still the chairman.

Hlaváček´s presentation deals with the activities of the Soros center in the transformation years in 1990s. Besides providing funding support for exhibition projects and residence stays, the SCCA organized during those years several significant exhibitions. The first well-backed-up event was the exhibition Landscape which took place in 1993 in Dům U Kamenného zvonu. The traditional genre of landscape painting in relation to contemporary art, the exhibition included works of art ranging from landscape paintings to landart installations. In line with the advertised idea of “open society“ the displayed works at the exhibitions organized by the Soros Centre were selected by a board of professionals on the basis of open-calls. Hlaváček laid emphasis on his disapproval of linking the activities of the Soros Center of Arts with any circle of artists joined by a certain programme or age. Another significant exhibition was Orbis fictus in Valdštejnská jízdárna in 1995. This grand event dedicated to the subject of new media was really impressive also due to the fact that the topic was still quite unusual for Czech spectators. Another exhibition organized by the Soros Center dealing with a fairly uncommon topic for the Czech milieu was the exhibition entitled Umělecké dílo ve veřejném prostoru (Art in public space). Its first part took place in 1997 in Veletržní palác displaying projects which were supposed to be realized later in „the public space“ of the capital. Through this exhibition local sponsors should have been found but unfortunately according to Ludvík Hlaváček not a single one was found. All the projects that were eventually realized the following year were funded again by the Soros Center.
In 1998 George Soros decided to terminate his financial support of the Center for Contemporary Arts. The aim of the center was to set general standards of transparent action and to initiate support from the local economic elite, however, according to Ludvík Hlaváček, these efforts have largely remained unfulfilled.

Josef Ledvina

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