Reports

Why are so many houses in Prague unnecessarily falling into disrepair, when thousands of people have nowhere to live or are crammed in lodging houses? Under what circumstances should the state have the right to expropriate property? What in practice does the phrase “ownership obliges” listed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms actually mean?
The exhibition entitled The Sky High above Our Heads is Ours!, symbolically illustrating the development of squatting movement in Prague from the nineties to the present, is trying to address these questions.

Establishment and evacuation of the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Jeseniova Street in Prague sparked a wave of public interest and protests against its abolition. This case once again pointed to the problem of abandoned buildings in the Czech Republic and the repressive attitude towards their alternative use. Exhibition of Art New Eternity group focuses on several of these specific cases.

The exhibition commemorates the seven key properties that the authors of the New Eternity group see as milestones of local squatting movement. Among them we find the now legendary squats or Ladronka and Milada, but also cases of one-day occupation (Albertov, Pohořelec, Washington Street) and currently still a hot case (Autonomous Social Centre Klinika, squat Cibulka). In the accompanying texts the authors also provide information relating to the ownership of the individual buildings, or on speculations with them.

Slogans accompanying the scenes are partly based on the original mottos used in connection with the individual cases and at the same time they spell out key aspects of these events. The used form was inspired by, among other things, hand-painted Vietnam antiwar posters from the 60s and 70s. This source of inspiration is also referred to in the exhibition’s title taken from a poster by a Vietnamese woman artist Phan Thông from 1967.

The project aims to draw attention to a wide range of topics related to squatting, which is in the Czech context rather marginal phenomenon, yet it concerns a number of ethical issues that lie at the very foundations of our contemporary society.

Artists from New Eternity group formulate its opinion as follows: “We are questioning the inviolability of private property as the highest (and perhaps the only) moral rule of today’s society. We reject the favoring of the right of property, which in practice is the law that rules over other human rights and freedoms (such as the right to housing).”

According to a curator of the Artwall gallery Zuzana Štefková “the squatting movement in our society has its meaning. Its activities point out to alternative ways of property management, build community awareness and as a result can wake up urban dwellers from lethargy and indifference towards the dilapidated buildings and needy people around us.”

“New Eternity group exhibition aims to highlight the fact that alternative cultural centers are beneficial for every town and should be granted a space,” says curator Lenka Kukurová.

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