Reports

The name is derived from the Břevnov-Broumov Abbey crest. The crest is compound, in the right shield there is … “ostrev” (a beam, or more precisely a strong branch with stubs) … in the left shield there are three… kosmá břevna (strips), the middle one bears a triad … of roses.The shield with the beam reminding the place name is the abbot’s emblem and the left shield, by tradition associated with the founder’s family (Slavník dynasty) belongs to the prior and the convent.
Milada Vilímková – Pavel Preiss, Ve znamení břevna a růží. Historický, kulturní a umělecký odkaz benediktinského opatství v Břevnově, Praha 1989.

James Elkins says in one of his studies dealing with contemporary art in relation to religion that it is truly complex and uncommon today to interpret such theme seriously and without any irony or a critical perspective. However art used to be associated with a spiritual experience, rituals or prayers for long centuries. With the arrival of modern art, almost every artwork with a religious message (or Christian message in the Euro-Atlantic scope) became a priori suspicious. There is no need to say the church reciprocated this mistrust and considered modern art dubious as well. Paradoxically, both sides suffered the consequences of the “breakup”, because the mutual separation of religion and “contemporary art” (to the intent that every art was contemporary some day) directed both participants to the trend of an inevitable marginalization of their roles in the life of a modern (fill in with prefixes -post, -hyper if necessary) man. There are countless reasons for the separation. One of the crucial ones is that art attempted to compete with religion in the pursuit of emancipation. It didn’t content with an interpretation let alone a mere illustration anymore but it looked for and offered solutions. And the solution was different from the one presented by Christianity. In the question of soteriology, modern art and religion diverged radically. Whereas Christianity postpones our salvation to more or less distant future in the world beyond, the avant-garde, which used to be fundamentally leftist all over the 20th century, desired to render the salvation available in our world and direct it closer to our presence.
The site specific installation Under the Sign of the Beam and Roses can be apprehended as a report on that mutual alienation. It comes out from the Břevnov Monastery genius loci, where “a monastic complex of a unique value and significance was created thanks to a far-sighted and refined selection of architects and other artists especially in the baroque times. But it is rather subversive, with the help of means which are closer to subversion than empathy. The installation presents the Břevov Monastery crest, scattered and fragmented in the space, constructed from ordinary materials and banal or cutesy objects which are provided, besides their role of mere illustrations, with a symbolic value. Instead of a seriously intended matter it is rather a quasi-play with a baroque iconography, symbol meanings or heraldry. OSB boards change at random into a reference to the Benedictine order (Ordo Sancti Benedicti) or cheap decorations of paper roses reminding of vanitas, the transience of everything. The same motives can be related right with the space they are found in. 
Freely scattered beams remind of once alarming state of the baroque orangery which practically perished in the era of socialism construction as a consequence of an unforgivable disinterest and along the same logic the paper “heraldic” roses transform into a local reference to the former garden greenhouse function. Finally the installation conveys a primarily laconic information – the orangery (realized by Kilián Ignác Dienzenhofer during the activity of the most significant Břevnov building owner, the abbot Otmar Zinke) has metamorphosed into a contemporary art gallery which is related with the monastery’s sacred life only very little. In practis it exemplifies that instead of the former mutually reviving co-operation, the two worlds, both the religious and the art one, miss each other in principle.

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