Frontiers of Solitude Symposium
The international symposium Frontiers of Solitude, organized as part of the eponymous art project site will offer a comparison of the opinions, experiences, and points of view of artists, curators, and invited guests on the theme of transitions in the landscape in which we currrently live and of which we are a part.
The symposium will search for relationships between the cultural, political, and economic aspects of contemporary concepts and our understandings of what is meant by such words as Earth, countryside, landscape, and land, including the topography of transitional zones, with an eye on both establishing and crossing over boundaries and limitations.
The term landscape can be understood as a mindset to orient us in the world and to reflect our relationship with the land. It is everywhere around us, under our feet; it is our shared starting point; it is that which at once unites and separates us. With this in mind, we can begin to raise questions about what is happening to the land? How are we connected to it, how do we relate to it, what separates us from it? How and to what extent can we understand the land, and what do we all know and not know about it? To whom does it belong, and how do we change it, for better or worse?
The artist, architect, businessman, technician, scientist, farmer, pilgrim and other kind of specialist each perceive the landscape in their own terms. How can we express and capture in human, rather than statistical, terms, both the visible and invisible transformations that the land undergoes, both locally and globally, with regard to the entire biosphere and climate?
Industrialization brings about mobility of people and goods, hyper-connectivity, overproduction and urbanization, which have transformed a large part of the 21st-century landscape into an industrial concourse, test laboratory, and a field of conflict among people, and between people and other living creatures. From this, there comes about a blurring of existing, seemingly well-defined borders, zones both separate and interconnected, with regions of safety and danger, rich and poor, managed and wild.
Have we already entered an ideosphere of beyond imaginary boundaries? Does contemporary art make it possible to orient ourselves within this unstable and ever-changing territory? Do frequent art projects and festivals, or interdisciplinary symposia on the theme of the Anthropocene offer fresh approaches and visions, or rather exploit the fascination and anxiety as result of the expected and unexpectied changes and transformations?
Guests and participants: Vít Bohal, Dustin Breitling, Peter Cusack, Petr Gibas,Stanislav Komárek, Alena Kotzmannová, Ivar Smedstad, Julia Martin, Pavel Mrkus, Ivo Přikryl, Martin Říha, Matěj Spurný, Tereza Stöckelová, The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Andras Heszky (Translocal Institute), Guy van Belle, Martin Škabraha.
This event takes place and is organized in collaboration of the French Institute in Prague and the support of the Agosto Foundation.
Location: French Institut Prague, Štěpánská 35 Praha 1
Friday 5 February
The first block of presentations consists of the outcomes from the expeditions to Iceland, north Bohemia and FInnmark during late summer of last year as part of the project. Participants will talk about their experiences and thoughts about the journeys. Alena Kotzmanová and Ivar Smedstad will present the Finnmark expedition, Julia Martin and Pavel Mrkus wlll talk about the landscape and industry in Iceland, and Peter Cusack, workshop lecturer for Into the Abyss of Lignite Clouds at the Most coal fields, will speak about his ongoing research into the sonic aspects of environmentaly damaged places and landcapes.
10:30 Miloš Vojtěchovský and Dagmar Šubrtová (CZ) - Welcome and introduction
1.Reports Beyond the Frontiers
10:45 Alena Kotzmannová (CZ) -North
11:00 Ivar Smedstad (NO) - Finnmark
11:30 Julia Martin (IS/D) - The Iceland expedition:Tracing hyperextended objects and their ecological agency
12:00 Pavel Mrkus (CZ) - About "The Fall"
12:15 Peter Cusack (UK) - Sonic Journalism and Places in Transition
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
2. Landscapes, Gardens, Mines, Dwellings, Voids
The afternoon block covers different aspects of current environmental issues, and in particular, there will be presented a case study of the industrial landscape around the Most basin in north Bohemia.
14:00 Stanislav Komárek (CZ) – Having a Land, Having a Garden
14:30 Martin Říha (CZ) - The Limits of Adaptation -The Men and The Ore Mountains Landscape
15:00 Ivo Přikryl (CZ) - Hydrological System of Landscape after Mining - Ideal and Reality
15:30 Matěj Spurný (CZ) - “We didn’t have the Numbers” The Dawn of Criticism of Socialist Productivism in North Bohemia in the 1960s as a Case Study
16:00 Petr Gibas (CZ) - Voids: The Landscape between presence and absence
Break - 17:00 - 19:00
19:15 Introduction to the film
19:30 Screening of Dreamland
Saturday 6 February
3. Anthropo-Scenes -- The morning block focuses on the broader contexts of the industrial and post-industrial landscape, related to the current discourse on the Anthropocene.
11:00 Martin Škabraha (CZ) - Reclaiming the Landscape
11:30 Dustin Breitling (CZ/USA) - Cognitive Mapping
12:00 Tereza Stöckelová (CZ) - Ontological Uncertainty in the Planetary Lab
12:30 Vít Bohal (CZ) - The Anthropocene: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Lunch break - 13:00 to 14:00
4. Places in Between: in the last block, presentations will offer three examples of how contemporary art and artists reflect the environmental crisis, and the questions of their vision of the future with the closing discussion panel.
14:30 Guy van Belle (B/CZ) - An Ecological Awareness, Crossing Borders between the Real and Imagined?
15:00 András Heszky (HUN) (Translocal institute, Budapest) - The River School and the Ecology of Danube
15.30 Isabelle Frémeaux & John Jordan (FRA/UK) (The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination) - Places in Between
16:00 Panel discussion
17:00 - 19:00 Break
19:00 Screening of The Forgotten Space. (Allan Sekula and Noel Burch)
Pavel Mrkus is a visual artist who makes use of digital moving images, sound and space. He graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. For several years, he taught at the University in Toyama in Japan. His work makes use of digital technologies in an attempt to intermediate between the spiritual traditions of western Europe and the East.
Stanislav Komárek is a professor in the Department of Philosophy and History of Sciences at the Faculty of Science, Charles University Prague. He is also a writer and essayist. He also holds a degree in biology from the Faculty of Biological Sciences of Charles University. He was briefly employed at the Institute of Parasitology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice, after which he opted for exile in Austria.
Guy van Belle
Guy van Belle (a.k.a. Gívan Belá) is a media artist and curator living in the Czech Republic. On occasion he would introduce himself as a media data author, on another as a wind time inventor and clockmaker, then at another as a slide and cigar box guitar musician in a skiffle/spasm band. After studying literature and linguistics, philosophy and sculpting, made the switch to computer music at the end of the 1980s.
Martin Škabrahais a Czech philosopher and journalist. He graduated in history and philosophy from the Philosophical Faculty of the Palacký University in Olomouc. Currently, he teaches in the departement of philosophy at the philosophy department of Ostrava University, focusing mainy on contemporary political thinking. His work has been influenced by Jan Patočka, Václav Bělohradský, Jacques Derrida, and theorists of the Frankfurt school. His essays bring together postmodern critique and statements of social engagement, adressing issues such as ecology, the New Left and feminism.
Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination
For more than ten years, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) has been bringing together artists and activists in order to co-create new forms of resistance and disobedience. Our aim is not to represent the world and its crises but to transform it, by using social movements as its material and creating a culture of resistance.
The Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art
Challenging anthropocentric conventions that seek to harness the river for economic, cultural and political purposes, the River School project (2013-2015) led my Maja and Reuben Fowkes, placed the complex ecological materiality of the Danube at the centre of artistic and scholarly attention.
Ivo Přikryl is a hydrobiologist working at ENKI o.p.s. Třeboň. His research focuses on zooplankton in lakes, dams and ponds mostly in Central Europe. He is currently studying the possibilities for the protection of wetlands , marshes, the management of dams and the recultivation of the landscape after periods of open cast mining, especially in the Ore Mountains.
Martin Říha is a Czech architect, urbanist, active in Czech environmental policy. After graduating from the Architecture Faculty of the Czech Technical University, he worked for the City of Děčín, and later in Ústí nad Labem at the Department of Regional Planning. There, he lobbied against the so-called “large-scale mining” proposed by the Soviet advisors for the North Bohemian coal region.
Tereza Stöckelová is a researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, assistant professor at the Department of General Anthropology, Charles University, and editor-in-chief of the English edition of Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review. Her work is situated in-between sociology, social anthropology and science and technology studies (STS), and draws upon actor network theory and related material semiotic methodologies.
Petr Gibas is interested in the landscape and urban anthropology with an emphasis on the home with regard to its emotional dimensions, homelessness, hybrid landscapes such as the industrial landscape of post-industrial Czech Republic, urban decay, and garden colonies in contemporary (Central) European cities.
The Landscape in Focus (Krajina v pozoru)
The topics of the conference reflect the links between economic, biopolitical, cultural, and ethical problems and their influence on regional development in an encounter with issues of international scope. We welcome entries from all scientific fields dealing with environmental topics, as well as those in contemporary art, artistic reflection and curatorial approaches.