21 September 2021

It is my country even though I do not belong here by Michal Novotný

Artists: Lizaveta Hrydziushka, Masha Kovtun, Olga Krykun, Milica Mijajlovic, Minami Nishinaga, Sofie Tobiášová

A programme by Michal Novotný

Selected artists – all former or current students of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague – question their identity in relation to belonging. The Younger generation is more connected, global, but also unrooted. Immigration in Eastern European countries however previously did not touch traditionally socially stratified, nationalist and elitist art education and art systems that were either out of the horizon for those from less developed or politically unstable countries or unattractive for the ones from the “western” world. However, in the last years, Art Academies such as the AAAD in Prague that has specialised international programs and regular curriculum taught in local language are being sought by more international applicants both from the former post-Soviet countries but also Asian regions. These artists became part of the local art scenes, traditionally monocultural, and therefore they also help to change the notion of Eastern European Art identity more or less stable since the early 1990s. This happens also in the middle of overall identity-turn touching also those who study in the same place they were born.

Exhibited works deal with how our own identities become more and more layered and complicated, that its own parts often become contradictory. The bittersweet past, at the same time repulsive and attractive. We know, but we can’t help ourselves. In the cocktail of conflicting emotions, neither of the two possible roads leads anywhere clear.

Michal Novotný is the director of Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery in Prague. He teaches at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He is the former director of FUTURA Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague (2011–18), and former curator at PLATO, Ostrava (2016–18). In 2018 he curated Orient, a large survey exhibition of art from Eastern Europe, which appeared at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia; BOZAR, Brussels; and Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, in 2018, and was followed by Orient 2 at Kunsthalle Bratislava, Slovakia, and Orient V at Prague City Gallery in 2019. He curated School of Pain (2019), dealing with the legacy of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch in contemporary art, at Art in General, New York. Deux sens du décoratif at Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest, France (2019) addressed the question whether the decorative may be taken as a subversive artistic position nowadays. Other recent curatorial projects and residencies have taken place at Delfina Foundation, London (2016); Stroom Den Haag, the Netherlands (2015); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2014); Contemporary Art Museum, Rijeka, Croatia (2014); Villa Arson, Nice, France (2013).