An international jury has shortlisted five finalists from the ranks of visual artists up to the age of 35 for the 31st edition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award.
These include Jakub Choma, artistic duo Anna Slama & Marek Delong, Marie Tučková, Jiří Žák and The Work Group for the Research of Extrasensory Aesthetics including Jan Kolský, Vojtěch Märc, Matěj Pavlík and Peter Sit. Artist Alma Lily Rayner, whose participation in JCHA 2019 was suspended due to health reasons, enters this year’s edition as well. The collective exhibition of the finalists and the exhibition of the international guest artists will be held in the fall of 2020 at Trade Fair Palace, National Gallery Prague. The Jindřich Chalupecký Award holder and the Czech Center Audience Award holder will be announced during the award ceremony in early December.
Change in the number of Award finalists, a rise of creative collectives
The team of Jindřich Chalupecký Society engages in a continuous critical reflection on the current form of the Award and generally on the role of similar projects both in local and international contexts. Recently, a rise in the formation of artistic collectives and groups preferring shared artistic practice to the individual presentation can be observed both in the Czech Republic and internationally. In the past year, some artists voiced their protest against the principles of art competitions: JCHA 2019 holder Andreas Gajdošík stated that he would share the financial contribution and international residency with his fellow Award finalists, while artists shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize rejected a single prize being awarded to one of them, and went on to win the award collectively. A similar approach was adopted by the finalists of Slovakia’s Oskár Čepán Award and other art awards. To the organizers of these projects, this is an important challenge to rethink their further direction. The jury of Jindřich Chalupecký Award supported these tendencies to some extent, having selected two art collectives for this year’s edition. In total, there will be ten artists participating in JCHA 2020.
Jakub Choma (*1995, Košice) studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (Painting Studio of Jiří Černický and Michal Novotný). He has moved from painting to spatial realizations, assemblages, objects and installations. His work is based on almost laboratory experiments with various materials such as cork, Lucite and aluminum, while largely relying on digital visual culture and the aesthetics of gaming environments which strongly impact the artist’s generation. He is interested in themes like hyperproductivity and exhaustion typical for neoliberal society as well as D.I.Y. culture, popular science and portable technologies. He has introduced his work primarily at independent galleries and art centers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as internationally, for instance in Leipzig, Riga and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Anna Slama (*1991, Brno) and Marek Delong (*1986, Brno) form an artistic duo since 2015. Delong graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno Technical University (Video Studio), Slama graduated from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm and went to several study stays, e.g. at Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn and Nagar School of Art in Jerusalem. In their artistic practice, they focus on installation, often assuming the dimensions of site-specific scenography, in which they embed their sculptures, objects, videos and paintings. The duo have shown a long-term interest in emotional strain and return to sensitivity and genuineness of artworks. They create a space for therapy and distance from the anxiety of the current generation facing the pressures of predatory capitalism and the loss of a positive vision of future and hope. By their approach, they are escaping logic and calculation, employing elements of fairy tales, sensuality and magic to create a space for vulnerability, intuition and unbiased navigation of the world. Delong and Slama regularly exhibit on the Czech and international gallery scenes, having recently introduced their work at CATBOX Contemporary in New York and FUTURA Center for Contemporary Art in Prague.
Marie Tučková (*1994, Prague) a. k. a. Ursula Uwe received a BA from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (Photography Studio of Aleksandra Vajd and Martin Kohout). She is currently studying a master’s program at the Dutch Art Institute Art Praxis in Arnhem, Netherlands. She also went to a study stay at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. Her work addresses new technologies and social media, asking how these transform human perception, communication and language. She is primarily focused on how they impact experiencing and expressing emotions. Marie Tučková’s work is mostly autobiographic, however, she is often speaking through an alter ego in her projects, thus being able to objectify the examined situations and search for other ways of sensitivity, developing empathy, and redefining feelings. She mostly works in the medium of installation combining audio, performative and visual elements. These are interconnected through text, which is often transformed into lyrics, a video voice-over, audio story or performance script. Tučková introduced her work at a number of independent galleries and institutions in the Czech Republic and internationally, for instance at the Academiae Biennial of young art in Bolzano, Italy. In 2016–2018, she was part of the Studio without Master collective. In 2017, she became a holder of the EXIT award. Together with Eva Rybářová, she forms the artistic audiovisual duo Cloudy Babies.
The Work Group for the Research of Extrasensory Aesthetics was founded in 2017. The current members include Jan Kolský, Vojtěch Märc, Matěj Pavlík and Peter Sit. Their work is based on the ongoing research of Czechoslovak parapsychology as well as the conviction that art can become a tool of social learning. The group explores the limits of science and art and researches their often esoteric language. They relate to technologies and magic, their connections with art, their occasional indistinguishability, and various forms of rationality employed within these fields. They study the effect of extrasensory perception on contemporary art, perceived as part of the world which has been conjured away and conjured up again. Their research of phenomena like telepathy and telekinesis hopes to refine our attention towards non-standard ways of creation and transmission of information and peculiar methods of manipulation. The outputs of the Work Group were presented at Josef Sudek Studio during Fotograf Festival and at Cursor Gallery in Prague, at LOM in Bratislava, online as well as in a forest during a program run by the Institute of Anxiety.
Alma Lily Rayner (*1984, Tel Aviv) is an Israeli-born artist and activist based in Prague. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, and has also studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design and FAMU in Prague. She went to a residency at Q21 Artists in Residence in Vienna and currently participates in the studio program of the cultural space Nová Cvernovka in Bratislava. In her work, Rayner addresses sociopolitical themes linked to gender, trauma and invisible forms of violence. While her projects are very personal, they are linked to long-term research and challenge dominant power systems. The artist works with various digital media, audiovisual “residual materials” as well as text and spoken word. She has introduced her work, which often transcends into public space, in Prague, Berlin, Paris, Jerusalem and Venice. She is the founder of the Barvolam association.
Jiří Žák (*1989, Zlín) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Studio of Intermedia Work III/Tomáš Vaněk School). He went to study stays at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, the Studio of the Visiting Artist at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, and the University of Art and Design in Karlsruhe. He works primarily in the media of the moving image and video installation, merging research, lyricism and the narrative form. He addresses the identity of post-communist countries and its deconstruction through non-western perspectives. He has researched the issue of Czech arms export to the Near East on a long-term basis, his other theme of interest being the sociopolitical relation to information published in the media and online. His latest works have also focused on environmental anxiety. Žák introduced his work at a number of independent galleries and institutions in the Czech Republic, and recently also internationally, e.g. at the Warsaw Biennial. He is active in the Studio without Master. In 2015, he became a holder of the EXIT award, in 2017 he was a finalist of the Other Visions competition at PAF Festival of Film Animation and Contemporary Art in Olomouc. He works for Artyčok TV and the National Film Archive in Prague.