Curatorial History of Contemporary Art

Martina Pachmanová, art historian, curator and critic, works at present in the Department of Art History and Theory at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. She specializes in gender issues and feminism in relation to modern and contemporary art. Among her major recent exhibition projects let us mention e.g. Těla, jazyky, instituce (Bodies, languages, institutions) (a part of the exhibition Formáty transformace: Sedm pohledů na novou českou a slovenskou identitu /Seven views on new Czech and Slovak identity), Dům umění, Brno, 2009 and MUSA, Vienna, 2010), Behind the Velvet Curtain: Seven Women Artists from the Czech Republic (Katzen Art Center, American University Museum, Washington, D.C., 2008), Cultural Domestication – Instinctual Desire (University of Toledo, Ohio, 2005). She also participated in the international project GENDER CHECK – Femininity and Masculinity in Eastern European Art (MUMOK, Vienna; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, 2009). Pachmanová prepared a number of exhibitions revealing her interest in gender already in the 1990s – e.g. in the Gallery of Václav Špála, MXM or Via Art. From 1995 to 1997 she was active as a curator of the alternative exhibition space in the Synagogue at Palmovka. The presentation is devoted especially to this early period of her curator work which had a significant impact on her further development. She emphasized several projects – festival performance Serpens, the exhibition of Jiří Příhoda, Barbara Benish or Václav Stratil – and also pointed out the specific nature of running such an alternative „exhibition hall“. The historical memory of the space of the former synagogue, which used to serve a vanished Jewish community, must have subconsciously determined both the exhibition program and individual art projects. At that time, according to Martina Pachmanová, this was a very unique place. She also gained inspiration from all the generously conceived events and projects organized by Miloš Vojtěchovský in Plasy monastery. What in the beginning seemed to be a challenge – a sacred and reverent atmosphere of the synagogue – gradually showed its limitations. Certain types of projects could not be carried out in the building of the former synagogue either for technical or reverent reasons. She gradually focused on academical work as an art historian.

Josef Ledvina

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