East Contemporary

DOX Centre for Contemporary Art: “Russia. Timeless”

Prague, October 4, 2019 – January 6, 2020, http://www.dox.cz/en/

Most of the works presented in the show were worthy to see, and I enjoyed walking around. I was a bit reminded of my visit to Loft Project Etagi in Saint Petersburg. Most of the works were in a smaller, portable format, and looked a bit crafty, handmade. I somehow subconsciously connect this style with one lineage of art I have encountered in Russia. The exhibition architecture was also quite simple, with art objects mostly hanging one next to another on a long white wall. The Blue Soup’s videos were from a different lineage, but similar to all the other works, they simply appeared as one artwork next to other artworks. Once I tried hardly, used my background knowledge and experience, and took an individual view on each work, I was able to create a feeling of enjoyment for myself, reconnecting with the artists. However, for someone just casually walking by and hoping to absorb some information simply out of the juxtaposition of works, the show would probably not work that well. Overall, the exhibition unfortunately felt more like a random assemblage than anything that could be “read” as an exhibition, failing to deliver an added value as a whole (that’s what the curators got paid for). An intellectual effort was needed to try to understand the, usually stereotypical, links to “timelessness”, but I personally was happier to follow my own “bilateral” dialogue with individual works than this theme forced upon the them. I enjoyed seeing the works, but the curators could have worked harder.

A side note:

This was the only show in Dox at this moment in time that somehow spoke to me. The other shows were children’s books illustration by Pets Sis, large metal wire sculptures by Veronika Psotkova, and some portfolio of prints to support Amnesty International. I felt quite saddened by the fact that Dox, with its wonderful spaces and great potential, is so much lagging behind in terms of content. It could have been so much better. I don’t much understand why. Is it a lack of budget? A lack of direction or openness from the side of the owners/managers? The focus on accessibility, education, free speech and democratic propaganda is a worthy cause, but it should not overtake the main purpose of art, which is art for art’s own sake. That is the only way art can be truly free. This statement is a fiction, but one worthy pursuing.

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