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PRAGUE BIENNALE STORY

A globally acclaimed contemporary art event, the Prague Biennale was founded in 2003 by Helena Kontová and Giancarlo Politi and was organised by the Prague Biennale Foundation (established in 2004). After the pioneering first edition, organised along with the National Gallery in 2003, three successful editions followed in the grandiose industrial space of Karlin Hall, in the futuristic Microna skyscraper and at the Žižkov Freight Station,  finally revitalising the vibrant district of Žižkov. The principal goal of the event in all its previous editions was to explore and capture the current trends on the contemporary art scene in the Central and Eastern European Region and present the best artists and curators to experts as well as to the general public.

 

Since joining the Magic Carpets Creative Europe Platform end of 2017, the Prague Biennale Foundation has launched a new, more concentrated annual series of the Prague Biennale Project, from which the Re-connect Art festival originated in 2021.

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Another key activity of the Prague Biennale Foundation is publishing the Czech & Slovak Edition of the Flash Art Magazine in collaboration with the Slovak NGO partner, Pilot. This local version of the world’s leading art magazine has been published quarterly since 2006. It encourages a broader debate on contemporary art in the form of monographs, theoretical essays, polyphonic panel discussions, and interviews with artists and other protagonists of the art scene. Every issue reflects on the featured topic identified as most up-to-date in contemporary art.

Re-connect Art serves as a platform for networking and motivates inter-generational, -disciplinary and -national collaboration. With regard to its long tradition, the Prague Biennale Foundation actively builds and expands a sustainable platform for international cooperation, among other things through the effective use of contemporary technologies in the field of art. Through a variety of programmes, from exhibition projects to conferences, debates and concerts, it aims to bring quality artistic work, especially in the field of performance and new media, to the general public, and to introduce established artists in a transnational context and enable them to develop contacts. By collaborating with several partner institutions with experience in different genres and fields (theatre, gallery, university, online video art platform etc.) both locally and abroad, Re-connect Art intends to turn Prague into an Open Art and Interdisciplinary Lab.
 

The curators of the current edition of the festival are: Kateřina Fojtíková, Václav Janoščík a Elis Unique.

 

Helena Kontová

 

She is the founder and director of the Prague Biennale Foundation.

 

Helena Kontová is an art critic, curator and, together with Giancarlo Politi, since 1979 the publisher of the renowned European contemporary art magazine Flash Art.

In 2006 she initiated and together with the Slovak association Pilot founded the local Czech and Slovak version of Flash Art issued quarterly in the Czech and Slovak languages.

 

She was the chief curator and director of the Prague Biennale and Prague Biennale Photo shows since 2003. These shows have focused on presenting the emerging art scene from Central and Eastern Europe, always focusing on a different geographical and conceptual aspect, and have also included an extensive contemporary painting section, Expanded Painting. Maurizio Cattelan and Damien Hirst, Francesco Vezzoli, Vanessa Beecroft, Marina Abramovic and Shirin Neshat, among others, have also exhibited at the Biennale. Helena Kontová has participated in numerous symposia and has written many essays and interviews with leading international artists of our time, such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mimmo Paladino, Enzo Cucchi, Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, Vanessa Beecroft, Francesco Vezzoli, David Salle, Maurizio Cattelan, and Shirin Neshat.

In 1993, she curated the exhibition Aperto 93 for the Venice Biennale, which is considered one of the most stimulating and important exhibitions of emerging artists of the 1990s. She also curated the video art exhibition Audience 0,01 /1994/ for the Trevi Flash Art Museum, and in 2000 the exhibition Fouri uso under the Bridges in Pescara, Italy, as well as Tirana Biennale 1 /2001/, and for Prague Biennale 1 the sections Special Effects and Expanded Painting.

In 2014-17 she served as a member of the presidium of the International Biennial Association (IBA), the international organization of world biennials.

 

Helena Kontová studied art history at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague and at the Statale University in Milan, where she graduated with a research topic on the life and work of the Czech Futurist painter Ružena Zátková, a friend of Marinetti and Giacomo Balli.

RE-CONNECT ART TEAM

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Václav Janoščík

Educator, theorist and curator, as well as a philosopher and online gamer. Through various activities - from pedagogical activities in the broadest sense, to preparing exhibitions, publishing books (e.g. Object (2015), Reinventing Horizons (2016), Mind in the Field (2018)), to touring Czechoslovak regions with lectures and discussions - he tries to spread and democratize contemporary thought and art. For example, in his authored book Insomnia (2018), he opens up a number of contemporary issues in a personal perspective - from the psychological and economic pressure on the pace of our lives to the influence of social media on our language and attention.

 

Markéta Hrehorová

 

Researcher, dramaturge, educator, and project manager. She graduated from the Critical Studies in Art and Culture research master programme at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In her own research, she is interested in finding ways art can bring about social change. Markéta has experience working as a copywriter and communication manager at Kunsthalle Prague in 2017–18 and, since 2020, for the international theater ensemble Farm in the Cave where she is also involved in research, dramaturgy, and organizing educational programmes.  She joined the Re-connect Art festival team in Prague in 2022 as a fundraiser and communication manager.

Role in the project: she will be in charge of pre-research on potential stakeholders, active in fundraising and management of communication/dissemination strategy for the project.

 

Miloš Marek

 

A graduate of the graphic design studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Jagiellonian University, he has been involved in gallery and AV production since 2009. He is the author of the VideoGallery NOD project with 360° panoramic projection and co-author of the project of restoration of Kino64 U Hradeb and LAB64, KvalitiLAB with VR Sculpture gallery, initiator of the Samorosti exhibition, the Microna gallery, the VideoLectures series of presentations, the VideoArt Symposium with the participation of Woody Vasulka, etc. He has years of experience in designing technological solutions and execution of various events in the cultural and exhibition sector, and has collaborated with many galleries and entities in Prague and elsewhere. At the same time, he is the production manager of the cultural and educational center at the Prague City Library and the technology director of the Re-connect Art festival.

Role in the project: He is the CTO of the festival and exhibition's architect, he provides consultation to artists in residency improving the design of technological solutions.

 

Elis Unique

 

is an Arts manager, curator, photographer, performance and video artist. Since 2008 Elis has exhibited and performed at a number of events in the Czech republic, Germany and Switzerland. In 2011 she got engaged in production and administration of Prague Biennale exhibitions and in 2013 became the coordinator of the Czech & Slovak Edition of Flash Art magazine. In 2018 Elis undertook curation and coordination of the Prague Biennale programme for Magic Carpets Creative Europe platform. Elis curated and organized a number of events, among others: New Acts of Live Art, a performance night at Fotograf gallery (2012) and a poetry event Spirit is a Vibration in the premises of the National gallery in Prague (2013), sound performance night at closing reception of Prague Biennale 6 (2013), Urban Skanzen exhibition in Clam-Gallas palace (2018), symposium Place, Time and Space on current issues of urban public space and contemporary art (2019). In 2021 she initiated emergence of the Re-connect Art platform and currently is the festival's coordinator and curator.

 

Kateřina Fojtíková

 

Educator, artist and curator who has long focused on the influence of digital media on the cultural and social spheres of our society. She founded the regional cultural center Schule, where she serves as curator and program director. She is dedicated to post-digital and creative education and is active in several educational platforms. She is the author of the multimedia project 4x4 Studio live, Gallery2 - Prague Quadrennial, Mlutimedia performance Stranger gets a gift - Alfred ve dvoře, Offline story, Simple story - Karlin studios, Galerie mladých Brno, In her research she deals with participatory models in post-digital art education.

She studied New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts.

PAST COLLABORATORS

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Jitka Hlaváčková

is an Art theoretician working at the Prague City Gallery (since 2006), where she curates the photography and new media collection. She co-curated the 2022 and 2023 editions of the festival. Jitka Hlaváčková is involved in the preparation of the GHMP Art for the City programme and in 2021 she was the curator of the m3 – Art in Space Festival and the initiator of the Gestures of Emancipation symposium. Otherwise she has prepared over thirty exhibition projects so far, including Sounds / Codes / Images – Audio Experimentation in the Visual Arts (2019) or Divination from a Night Sky…, The Role of Photography in the Post-Media Age. For several years she curated the Start Up series for emerging artists and the Projektor online video art gallery. In her research she focuses on the history and theory of acoustic art, photography, video art and art reflecting technology in post-media contexts of contemporary life in general. In parallel, she also explores the “public language of art”, i.e., current urban and environmental art strategies in relation to social, gender and community issues. She completed her master’s and doctoral studies in Art History at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University.

Jana Orlová

Jana Orlová is a Prague-based performer, poet and researcher. She was the co-curator of the first edition of the festival together with Elis Unique. Holder of PhD from the Department of Theory at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (2021) under the supervision of Pavlína Morganová. In her dissertation, she explored the difference between visual performance and theatre and also analysed the question of the content and use of the term performance. Orlová's critical and curatorial practice focuses on performance and liminal art forms. Currently, she is a lecturer at Silesian University and researches experimental possibilities of performance documentation and ways of exhibiting this documentation. She also publishes her studies abroad.

Jana Orlová has published three collections of poetry in the Czech Republic and five abroad, and her poems have been translated into many other languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Hindi. She has performed throughout Europe and also in Canada and the USA. In her artistic practice, performance art is living poetry, she sees her body as a field of events and works with ritualistic and holistic approaches. Her work is characterized by a combination of minimalist form and raw statement. In 2017, the Next Wave festival hailed her as one "who questions the boundaries between literature, visual art and theatre with a natural ease".

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