Sylva Poláková, Martin Mazanec: Catalogue of the Events of the Czech Moving Image II. (Other Visions 2000 – 2010)

The catalogue resulted from the need to map and revise the events in the field of creation, presentation and distribution of the Czech moving image. The catalogue is conceived as an open and gradually supplemented publication platform. The volume series includes events that have presented the Czech moving image in various spatial-perceptual modes in the period of 2000-2010. The selection of the encyclopaedic contributions is based on the very term “event”. The aim of the descriptions of the individual events is to record the events in the field of the moving image and to define the common denominators of their interpretation and the transformation of their presentation, including the context-oriented editorials. The first volume focuses on the fleeting and critical potential of an “event” as a characteristic feature of the contemporary presentations of the moving image.

The choice of the key word “event” shifts the reflection of the moving image beyond the presentation practices in the form of exhibitions or cinema screenings. The event can be characterized by means of time-spatial relations which are both temporary and local, leading to a faster “half-life” in the historical context among other things. In the course of the reflected decade 2000-2010, the moving image has appeared in traditional film and art productions as well as in environments that correspond neither to the black box nor to the white cube. Due to the development and wide-spread use of digital technologies, it has expanded to other spaces such as music clubs and public urban spaces. The term “event” as a critical-analytical term has first appeared in the art historical vocabulary of Harold Rosenberg’s essays dealing with late modernist art practices (primarily action painting) which evince an overt thematization of temporality, of both the art object and the spectatorial reception; so that one should rather speak about an event than an art artefact (Rosenberg 1952). In a similar way, the catalogue includes profiles of such presentations of the moving image that are characteristic of temporality as well as transcendence of traditional presentation venues. Such a situation may activate processes that are unexpected in the context of the place. Therefore it is not appropriate to speak about exhibitions, cinema screenings etc. only.

In retrospect, the term “event” has been employed in connection with earlier artistic expressions, such as the Dadaist cabaret (Watts 1988). In the avant-garde in general, the event was one of the means of transcending and escaping the limitations imposed by the conventions of the arts and culture. For instance, the avant-garde “rhythmic” films by Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling and Walter Ruttmann from the 1920s disrupted the notion of film with a narrative line or a referential relation to the “photographed” reality. According to avant-garde artists, film as a type of an artistic aesthetic activity also provided a social transformational potential, which was employed e.g. in the legendary Berlin matinée Der absolute Film (Wilmesmeier 1994). As a combination of aesthetic and performative practices and processes, the event was meant to provoke, shock and discourage from “doctrinal somnambulism” (Kutcher 2003) in avant-garde movements; and not only there. In a similar way, the format of the event was later employed by members of the Fluxus movement who conceived the event as a medium purging other media. The time-spatial event defies pre-reflection and pre-ideological subordination; by means of mutual communication between the artist and the audience, it can also update the aspects of another medium (Maciunas 1963). Across the history of its use, the term “event” played a critical-analytical role towards all components of the artistic practice (i.e. towards the creative process as well as the mode of presentation, which can also be simultaneous, towards the artwork, the artists as well as the recipients).

In the catalogue volumes, the event is perceived as related to the place of presentation in the given time and the given set of institutional rules that may be altered, rearranged, disrupted, or also solidified either by means of the presence of the moving image or by a concrete curatorial gesture rather than the intention of the individual artists. Rather than presenting profiles of monographic and authorial exhibitions, the catalogue includes curatorially and dramaturgically conceived events with a wide scope of represented artists employing the moving image. The event calls attention to the formation and values of the modern space which is not perceived as a passive homogenous space objectified by science but rather as compartmentalized space of capitalist production (Kutcher 2003). Such a space generates specific expectations defined by certain conventionalized forms of consumer spectatorship. Thus the events transforming the traditional presentation and reception definition of galleries, cinema halls, music-and-dance clubs and public city spaces raise the question of place with

respect to the discussed temporality.

The reason for establishing an “open” catalogue of the events of the Czech moving image consists in a long-term absence of a systematic reflection of the diverse presentation practices of the Czech moving image. Rather than providing interpretation, the catalogue highlights frequently neglected events which, however, can take up the role of a considerable if not crucial context to influence both the cinematic practice and the visual arts and their friction areas. Most of the works presented within the selected events are not included in any permanent distribution network (such as cinema, TV broadcasting, DVD); analogously, no collecting or archival effort has been registered on the part of either film archives or museums and gallery collections and related institutions. The history of the Czech moving image and its manifestations can be compared to that of the neighbouring countries where the overlapping lines of the history of cinematography, visual arts and contemporary manifestations of the moving image have been interpreted on a long-term basis in the form of international distribution networks, archives, museum collections and edition lines (e.g. Sixpackfilm and Filmmuseum in Austria; Béla Balázs Studio as part of the Műcsarnok Museum in Budapest, Hungary; CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Poland; ZKM Karlsruhe in Germany; etc.). In the Czech environment, only isolated projects have been realized in the reflected period of 2000 – 2010, mostly those of a monographic type (such as monographic DVDs focusing on the neglected personalities of the history of the Czech moving image published by the National Film Archive in Prague, e.g. Petr Skala: Utajený experimentátor, concept by Bohdana Kerbachová, NFA 2005; Woody Vasulka, Virtuální houbaření, concept by Lenka Dolanová, NFA 2006).

The Catalogue of the Events of the Czech Moving Image was initiated by the Festival of Film Animation and Modern Art (PAF Olomouc) dealing with the wide scope of the phenomenon of film animation in the context of cinematography, media studies and visual arts. In 2011, the curatorial exhibition Other Visions celebrated its fifth anniversary; rather than publishing a standard catalogue, it started mapping related activities in the field of the presentation of the moving image in retrospect. In co-operation with the mediabaze.cz project (FAMU Prague), a seminar was opened at the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies of Palacký University in Olomouc for the purposes of the catalogue where the individual profiles of the events were created. The sources of information included primary sources (e.g. press releases, programmes, invitations, interviews, audio/video recordings), secondary sources (e.g. media reviews and reports) as well as personal consultations with the event participants (curators, dramaturges and presented artists). Besides basic information concerning the time and place of the events, the catalogue profiles also include a description of the curatorial perspectives and possibly a reflection in the media. The objective of the catalogue volumes is to provide documentation including profile information on the events as long as the source data is accessible with respect to the fleeting character of the events. As a whole, the catalogue establishes a network which has determined the Czech moving image and its presentation practices of the reflected period. The selection of the events is ordered chronologically in each of the volumes.

Sources:

  • Harold Rosenberg, The American Action Painters, ARTnews 51/8, No. 12, 1952, p. 22.
  • Harold Rosenberg, The Art Object and the Esthetics of Impermanence, In Ibid, The anxious object: Art today and its audience. Thames & Hudson, 1965, p. 88-96.
  • Harriet Watts, The Dada Event. From Transsubtantiation to Bones and Barking, In Stephen C. Foster (ed.), "Event" arts and art events. UMI Research Press, 1988, p. 119.
  • Holger Wilmesmeier, Deutsche Avantgarde und Film: Die Filmmatinee „Der Absolute Film“. Münster/Hamburg, 1994.
  • Roberto Kutcher, Event. Keywords Glossary, The University of Chicago: Theories of Media, 2003. Available online: http://humanities.uchicago.edu/faculty/mitchell/glossary2004/event.htm (cit. 7. 2. 2012).
  • George Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963. Available online: http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/gmaciunas-manifesto.html (cit. 7. 2. 2012)

Text: Sylva Poláková, Martin Mazanec
Editorial
Latest update: 15. 2. 2013

Katalog událostí českého pohyblivého obrazu I. (Jiné vize 2000 - 2010)