Exhibition of Czech Contemporary Art “The Exception and The Rule” in the National gallery of Macedonia, object Chifte hamam. Opening od December 23th (wednesday) at 7:30 PM.
The Exception and the Rule
Opening December, 23, 2015
The story of a journey
You have heard and you have seen
You have seen what is common, what continually occurs
But we ask you:
Even if it´s not very strange, find it estranging
Even if it is usual, find it hard to explain
What here is common should astonish you
What here´s the rule, recognize as an abuse
When you have recognized an abuse
Bertolt Brecht, The Exception and the Rule, Epilogue
Aleš Čermák, Eva Jiřička, Eva Koťátková, BarboraKleinhamplová and Tereza Stejskalová, Václav Magid, Markéta Magidová and Jan Pfeiffer, Ján Mančuška, Sláva Sobotovičová, Roman Štětina, Adam Vačkář
The work presented in this exhibition represents just a small illustration of the performative approaches so often applied in recent years especially by the younger generation of Czech artists. The popularity of theatrical means in the fine art scene is ever more significantly influencing both practice and theory and the ongoing debate speaks of the influence of theatre, of theatricality or the choreographic aspect. The selection among other things illustrates a certain development among the younger generation of Czech artists, which is moving away from the imperative of the emancipated participant who co-creates the work, in favour of more encompassed pieces that absorb the observer or audience.The format consists primarily of video recordings of staged actions and performances, which employ pre-selected scripts. The show confronts works that were created and documented in various authentic environments with using representatives of various social groups, and projects in which professional actors or performers participate.
The title of the exhibition, The Exception and the Rule, is borrowed from the eponymous “teaching play” by Bertolt Brecht (DieAusnahme und die Regel), the premises of which, especially in terms of approach to the spectator, the social engagement of art as an agent of social change and the emancipation of the disadvantaged classes, are in connection with the “social turn” and educative trends among those most cited by authors of the last two decades. Apart from plays and stage-theory ideas, Brecht was, due to direct connections to Walter Benjamin, reflected from the 1920s onwards not only by the Frankfurt School, and especially in the late 50s and early 60s, his opinions and practice influenced generations, as they had the Czech interwar avant-garde and also postwar theatre. Brecht and the critical reading of him can still have different connotations in the East and the West. While in Western discourse he served primarily as one of the influential sources for an appeal to the active spectator in the context of participative and collaborative art (e.g. C. Bishop), immediately after the Second World War his concept of epic theatre was in the East one of the pillars of the “realistic” notion of theatre practice.
In order that the original ideas in theoretical discourse should not be reduced to a sort of algorithm of ever increasingself-servingstructures that aremeant to create thecontextsurrounding contemporary art, it iscertainlygood tosense thesocialargumentof theseeducative playsand discover how they workwith the emotionsof the spectator.Brechtwas already writing the playin 1930, but only finished it in 1937, while it is notknown to havebeen staged before 1947, when it premieredsimultaneously in Germanyand France,andsoon afterJ.P.SartrepublishedaFrench translationof it inLesTempsModernes.
Brecht wrote these lines during the rise of Nazism before his emigration into exile. The Exception and the Rule is not just the story of the exploited and the exploiter, but also can be read as a narrative of cultural, power and ethnic conflict fully within the logic of post-colonial critique, in which a rich merchant hires an obliging native “coolie” as a guide and, following his inconsiderate treatment of the native during the journey, comes to suspect him of wanting to kill him.
The coolie is brought to trial and, although no evidence is found against him, he is wrongfully convicted by the tribunal. His accuser, Karl Langmann, offers the irrational argument that the native had such intentions. The “dangerous landscape” of the desert that the caravan races across to the town of Urga is a sort of metaphysical space, a metaphor for the white man’s critical state and paranoidfeelings ofthreat. The absurddevelopmentof the trialgenerallyassesses thepredominantexperience that various strata of society do not havethe samesocialandlegalstatus orthe same conditions foracquisitionof everydayopportunities.
Unlikelanguage, the grammarof visualmaterialis not subject to rules and therefore does nothave to stateexceptions to rules. It is even part of the programmatic premises of art to overturn stereotypes of visualization and the limits of established forms and to seek appropriate forms for the representation of the current issues of the day. The perhaps excessively agit-prop verse in the prologue may be applied tothe current politicalclimate both here andelsewhere;we can observe it in the here and now. Tomorrow, the boundaries may not be where they are today, and stories ofinjusticecontinue on. The process ofreevaluating ethnic andnationalidentitiesand the current socialsituationshould keep us in a state of alertness.