Every art experience is different, but it is not only about a certain exhibition, but also about the place where it is exhibited. There can be a building, which offers the current as well as earlier exhibitions in a historical atmosphere such as Rudolfinum, but on the other hand, there are also buildings like DOX – Centre for Contemporary Art, whose minimalistic space brings us totally different atmosphere. You do not look at the walls and sculptures from the previous centuries, because everything that you can find in this building is the art on the white walls. The architect of this building is Ivan Kroupa.
DOX is one of the most important art centers in Czech Republic and also the building as such is an artwork, which calls us to come and look at the world differently. Its exterior walls can boast of the inscription: “Art is what makes life more interesting than art. Risk! Risk anything. Face the truth. Act for yourself. The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude. Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down. Be handsome, be attractive and don’t be unattractive.” This building makes us think. Or, is it the art that enables us to penetrate deeper into our thoughts?
DOX´s mission is to “present contemporary Czech and international art within the context of important social topics that are shaping and transforming today’s world.” It can do so, because it tries to connect several areas of world views. For instance philosophy, psychology, history or even politics. It is also very important to say that DOX is very significant due to the programmes like interactive workshops, conferences, discussions and other events that support the creative development of children and students.
In these days, DOX holds a few exhibitions, and one of them is called HateFree? HateFree Culture is an initiation of people, who try to live a normal life without hatred and violence. The purpose of HateFree Culture is to bring respect and tolerance, or creative and clever ways how to make the world a better place. The members of this movement use DOX for presentation of their works, because they want to point out that the issues associated with hatred and evil are serious and we should change them.
The artists who enrich this exhibition with their works are Black Media, Ivanka Mariposa Čonková, DE-FENCE, Alena Foustková, Francesca a Sára, Susa Gunzner-Sattler & Grandhotel Cosmopolis, Lukáš Houdek, Jako doma & Hot Karot, Pavel Karous, Michaela Pospíšilová Králová, Kundy Crew, Roel van der Linden, Radim Lisa, Tamara Moyzes, Ilona Németh, Nová věčnost, Eugenio Percossi, Paul Poet, Pavel Pražák, Josef Rabara, Tomáš Rafa, Romane Kale Panthera, Upocená alternativa, Richard Wiesner, and Shlomi Yaffe.
We had a chance to see this exhibition with the curator Zuzana Štefková, who explained us the stories behind the artworks. It is really different when you see a certain exhibition on your own and when there is a person, for whom this experience represents a job. Maybe, you have not got so much time to receive everything, because you have to concentrate on the speech as well as the art itself. However, it is possible to see it twice. We ended this exhibition with the workshop, in which Kristina (education staff) asked us the two questions: “Is it ok when artists break the laws?” and “Is happiness a choice?” Opinions on these issues were different, but the discussion was worth it.
Obviously, this event is not intended to show aesthetics, beauty or uncommon usage of different materials. This exhibition indirectly points out that the politics and a loss of humanity destroy our society and hence, we have to ask, if this is still art or if artists have enough competences to use art for such reasons. HateFree? exhibition is focused on the government´s failure to cope the current situation, which is associated with the refugees, but it is mostly about a human nature that is many times full of hatred and violence. This group of artists wants to tell us that something that definitely should not be a part of our lives becomes still more and more normal and natural and people do not know how to fight against it. Does it mean that we no longer believe in equality? What is the value of today´s world when we have to constantly point out, that there is something wrong with our behavior? Maybe that is why artist do not try to “glamourize” our society by the beauty in their works. They just have to use their abilities to point out (if not to solve) the problems that we struggle with. It means that the tasks of artist are still not totally clear, but we should not blame them for occasional politics, religion or generally “truth” which their art contains. We can notice that “today, political, moral and ethical judgments have come to fill the vacuum of aesthetic judgment in a way that was unthinkable 40 years ago.” (Azimi) The attitudes to art as such are different, but we have to decide what we want to take from certain works – we can think about the process of making it, we can think about the artist´s inner world, we can perceive its beauty, or we can just realize that something is wrong and we should finally change it.
HateFree? exhibition offers us all of these. We can complain about the amount of evil, which should not be present in art centre, but we have to realize that it makes us decide what is good and what is bad, not like television. This exhibition begins whit the colorful painting by Roel van der Linden and it is the painting of a guy, which, of course, hides a very interesting meaning behind it. It is a picture of homeless man, who owns this painting and we should certainly know that we cannot hate people without home, only because we think they are different.
There were also other homeless people, who inspired the artists in the exhibition. We could see a video of woman, who made a “hot karot” that is actually a hotdog without a sausage and instead, there is a carrot with a carrot spread. And it looks really good! This project provides social assistance to homeless women. “At the StreetSauce bistro, the women serve a menu made of carrot hotdog and data-based sauces created out of their life stories.”
Another piece of this exhibition shows the brutal actions that were caused by the policemen in Košice, Slovakia. There are videos that show six Roma children being forced to strip naked, kiss each other on the cheek and then strike each other in the face. In one shot, six young Roma boys standing in a tiny room begin pulling their clothes off. A voice from above shouts at them to be quick, that the last to disrobe will be punished. One thin boy hesitates to pull off his white underwear. “Take it all off!” a voice shouts. “Hands behind your heads!” The camera that is filming this humiliating scene closes in on the boys’ genitals and then pans out to capture one of them looking up at his tormentors. However, we could at least see the beautiful pictures made by Romani children.
The exhibition contains also another “great experience” from Slovakia. We can just hope that it is not about the country, because stupid people can be found anywhere else. Anyway, there are the elections in these days in Slovakia, and one of the parliament candidates is Marian Kotleba, whose love to the native country is as strong as his love to the fascism. If you think, that people like Hitler no longer exist, come to visit this guy and he will show you how he “loves” the refugees and gypsies.
The atmosphere of hatred that is not welcome can be also seen within the pictures that look like typical Slovak embroideries, but they represent ironical inscriptions like:
We could also see the work by Michaela Pospíšilová Králová, As If It Has Never Existed which represents the series dedicated to the Roma concentration camp in Hodonín by Kunštát. The artist painfully realizes that what happened at Hodonín is not discussed, and there is no chance of the Czechs admitting guilt. A road on which one drives to Hodonínek, barracks disappearing in the darkness, crossed – out faces and small figures of prisoners, and finally a list of men, women, and children, blacked out save or first names, and the bitter end of people who passed through the camp, evokes our fragmentary memory, in which the reminiscence of the tragic consequences of racist thinking has disappeared all too quickly.
The last works of the exhibition represented the message through the chairs in the shape of swastikas or the walls with the small papers dedicated to the viewers: “Take one which you want to be and take one which you do not want to be.”
And whom do you hate the most?