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[Nettime-ro] PRAGUE BIENNALE is the one and only PRAGUE BIENNALE
Revista Art-hoc on Sat, 21 May 2005 10:46:09 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-ro] PRAGUE BIENNALE is the one and only PRAGUE BIENNALE


PRAGUE BIENNALE 2

PRAGUE BIENNALE is the one and only PRAGUE BIENNALE




The first edition of PRAGUE BIENNALE took place in 2003. On that occasion we asked the Prague National Gallery to host the exhibition. The director of the gallery, Milan Knizak, conceded this hospitality reluctantly and continuously tried to hinder the event (suffice it to think that he forbade us the use of the photocopiers, the fax machines and the computers belonging to the National Gallery, thus compelling us to use an Internet point outside the National Gallery building). But the most hateful and improper gesture was denying our Producer/Manager, Jiri Prihoda, access to the National Gallery, for the completely trivial and personal reason that Prihoda had dared to criticize one of Knizak's very own installations during a debate. But the cherry on the cake was that Knizak took, for his own benefit, the money earned from the entrance tickets to the Biennale, a total of 100.000 euros, with the excuse that there was only a verbal, not a written agreement.

For this second edition, since the very beginning we have excluded the possibility of working with a person who is unprofessional and basically unscrupulous, such as Milan Knizak, who uses the Prague National Gallery as his own personal feud (and where he has created, as if he was a great protagonist of the art scene, close to Beuys, a room of his own).

For those who live outside the Czech Republic and do not know Milan Knizak, perhaps a brief introduction is necessary. One of the latest Fluxus artists and certainly not one of the best, he is known to have been a bit of a rebel in the past, opposing local traditions and systems. After the fall of the Berlin wall and thanks to his many friends who were politicians (and not exactly progressive ones), in particular the President of the Republic, Klaus, he began his unstoppable ascension that in no time at all took him from being a simple professor to becoming the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts and immediately after the Director of the National Gallery and of all the museums in Prague as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the state television.

The Czech Republic's desertion of the international art scene

An all round man of power indeed. Power which in a short while made him forget his past as an arsonist and made him become a fierce and implacable enemy of every form of new and progressive/avant-garde art. He bitterly fights and boycotts all the young artists from Prague and only patronizes the mediocre and incapable ones. He becomes the paladin and supporter of the most backward Prague retro-garde by exhibiting it in his National Gallery and trying to export it abroad. Never have the artists of the Czech Republic received so little attention and consideration abroad as during the last few years due to the lack of support and encouragement from the National Gallery. And Milan Knizak is the only one responsible for the total absence of Prague and Czech art on the international art scene. Just when new and interesting cultural and artistic proposals such as those of Poland, the Slovak Republic and Hungary, were starting to come into the limelight, Milan Knizak was slow to support
artists of any quality.

Consequently it would have been impossible to even consider working together on PRAGUE BIENNALE 2, which was conceived, promoted, financed, created (thanks to the enlightened sponsor Mattoni) and brought to success despite the continual ill-treatment and boycotting that Mr. Knizak subjected us to in 2003. Reluctantly and only to take away our ideas and possible advantages, he gave us hospitality in his National Gallery (sending us also the bill for the postage stamps for the invitations that we had printed ourselves and brought to Prague, as well as the electricity bill at the end of the exhibition!).

And we, being people who like to work calmly and without traumas (the work and stress are tiring enough without additional trauma from internal battles) tried to find a venue for the new edition of PRAGUE BIENNALE that was not the National Gallery, having to face substantial stress and costs that reduced our already limited budget.


But do you know what happened? Dear old Milan Knizak, who for decades has never done a thing, who in his National Gallery never hosted an exhibition of contemporary art apart from the routine ones passed on to him by local cultural institutes (for example recently: an exhibition of Chinese watercolors) as a response to our unwillingness to work with him anymore, suddenly decided to organize a PRAGUE BIENNALE of his own, knowing perfectly well that the idea behind the biennale and name belonged to us. But it does not end there: seeing his total incompetence and that of his staff, apart from wanting to name the exhibition PRAGUE BIENNALE, he is trying to invite those curators that we had invited for the first edition. The majority of these curators are scandalized and refuse, yet he manages to catch some renegades who are starved of curatorial projects.

 

Milan Knizak's group show will have to

 

change its name shortly

 



Despite continual requests from our lawyer and injunctions of the Prague Court of Justice that invite him to change the name of the event (our copyright on the brand does not allow someone else to associate the name of Prague with an international art biennale), confident of his backing from politicians coupled with his arrogance, he continues unabatedly to call a most ordinary and disassembled group show the "Prague International Biennale," thus wrongly inducing curators, artists and members of the public who think that they are taking part in our Prague Biennale whereas in reality they are taking part in a simple group show that will shortly have to change its name. Those who have been invited to take part in PRAGUE BIENNALE2 are exclusively the artists and curators who received an invitation signed by Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova. 

In the light of the hundreds of letters of explanation that we receive from curators and artists who have been invited by Knizak who thought they were going to be taking part in our Biennale, we felt it our duty to clarify our position with regard to this ambiguity. For this reason we are telling everyone that PRAGUE BIENNALE IS THE ONE AND ONLY PRAGUE BIENNALE and will be held from the 26th May at the venue of Karlin Hall (Thamova 8-14) where we shall be waiting for you all to see together the most grandiose and interesting exhibition in Central Europe. The other exhibition at the National Gallery is merely a group show, a caravan of artists and curators that act as testimony of Milan Knizak's mental confusion and his sole desire to bring harm to others.

 

Please visit the PRAGUE BIENNALE 2 website: www.praguebiennale.org

 





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