Jiří Ševčík has been filming exhibitions and his visits to art studios since the mid-1990s. He has shot dozens of hours of documentary material about Czech and foreign art. He was the curator of the exhibition Überlebenskunst (Art of Survival) which he organized in 2000 together with Jana Ševčíková and Alexander Tolnay for Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (exhibited also at the chateau Plassenburg in Kulmbach). The curators conceived the exhibition as a political testimony about the new demands on art of the East at the end of the 1990s, which grew sober leaving behind bombastic hopes of becoming a part of the western cultural context that seemed so real after the fall of the iron curtain. In their introductory text Jana and Jiří Ševčík wrote: “There was a collapse of alternatives, a loss of interest and only a marginal position remained. Seen from inside, the problem East-West still exists. For the West eastern art is interesting only if it is compatible production or produce of victims. Although collapse of alternatives does not result in any other resort but integration, however, the so-called eastern art has to define its own context, its own Difference and a new formula of survival.“ Apart from views of the exposition the film shows scenes which are an almost lyrical testimony about the good atmosphere during the installation of the exhibition and about the friendly relationships between the exhibiting artists. We can see the curator and the artists helping each other as if they were in reality a professional installation team. The video shows Krištof Kintera, Jiří Kovanda, Alena Kotzmannová, Ján Mančuška, Vladimír Skrepl, the curator Jana Ševčíková and Jan Černý, the owner of the gallery Galerie MXM, which cooperated on the production of the exhibition. Krištof Kintera is working with a soldering gun preparing his Talkmen (1999), Vladimír Skrepl producing his Cosy Home (2000), Jiří Kovanda is drawing on the wall with spaghetti and with the help of Jan Černý (Le dessin automatique, 2000), Alena Kotzmannová is hanging up photographs of Mice Holes (1999), Ján Mančuška is preparing his Morning 2001 (1999) from soap, cotton swabs or lemonade straws. Background music comes from the series Twin Peaks from the exhibited video by Petr Pastrňák Twin Peaks – an afternoon at a building site (1994). As if an apocalypse should come after this idyl – after all the exhibition is about the art of survival. Berlín, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, 18. 3. – 30. 4. 2000, exhibiting artists: Krištof Kintera, Alena Kotzmannová, Jiří Kovanda, Ján Mančuška, Petr Pastrňák, Michal Pěchouček, the group Pode Bal, Míla Preslová, Vladimír Skrepl, Ivan Vosecký.
We wish to thank Jiří Ševčík for lending us the recording from the video archive of VVP AVU.
In the Window to the Archive programme the AVU Research Center in Prague (VVP AVU) in conjunction with Artyčok.tv regularly releases works from the VVP AVU video archive. The selection for Artyčok.tv 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.