Curatorial History of Contemporary Art

The art historian, critic and curator Milena Slavická has been dealing mostly with her own curator activities from the nineties in her presentation. She starts with rather elaborated attempt on more general typology of a curatorship.

She points out the role of Harald Szeeman who founded curatorship viewed as a kind of an antonomous creative work. In her opinion, his exhibition When Attitudes Become Form (1969) did not present any pragmatic report on the state of art platform but had a direct formative influence on its further development. Two basic polarities of a curatorship experience are according to Milena Slavická presented both by a situation when the curator and his activities are linked with collection-making institutions such as the national museum of art and also by a „freelance“ curator connected with an institution of the Kunsthalle type. The first example is being predicated as more „responsible approach“ which necessarily includes also the state representing ground. As an example of a curator related to such type of institution she mentions the former director of Centre Gerges Pomidou, Jean-Hubert Martin who is apart from other things also the author of the Magiciens de la Terre exhibition. The representative of the second example is Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Besides the fact that he works outside such institutinal structures, he is known for having less invasive approach and he makes an effort to understand the art community’s point of view.

Part of his approach is according to Slavická also his habit of mapping the art platform by interviewing the artists. Milena Slavická identifies with this model of curatorship.
Important is her crucial attitude to the Moscow conceptual platform that dates back to 1977 when she visited the Russian capital for the first time and made contact with the local unofficial art community. She dedicated the exhibition „Fly, Leave, Disappear“ (1995, The City Gallery in Prague) to the Russian conceptual art between 1970 and 1990. She emphasized a certain poetic aspect of Russian conceptualism there, related with a frequent symbolism of absence and disappearance. In 1990 she confronted the work of the Czech art group Monday with the Russian Medhermeneutics in the gallery U Řečických by way of a double exhibition.
The link between the two groups was a „distance game“ with the motives of childhood and innocence. In 1991 she co-founded the Pi-Pi-Art Gallery (the abbreviation meant to be an intentionally deformed acronym for Prague Project for the Art) in the space of the former hall of the Czechoslovakian Writer (Dům U Topiče). She ran the gallery together with Viktor Pivovarov, Václav Stratil and Adriena Šimotová. Besides many monographic presentations, the Pi-Pi-Art also made a cardinal exhibition in the building of ÚLUV (The Centre for Folk Art Production) called New Intimacy (1991) engaged in art with strongly emotional and personal motives.


Josef Ledvina

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