DOX Center for Contemporary Art – Themes of a child in the exhibition Promising Prospects in Prague DOX –

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The name DOX is derived from the Greek word doxa, which, among other things, means a way of understanding things, opinions, beliefs. Through exhibitions of contemporary art, performances and a variety of events from discussions, readings, workshops, concerts and film screenings to educational programs, DOX addresses the themes and issues that shape today’s world. DOX is a platform for social interaction, a place where art transforms everyday experience.

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Today, the DOX Center for Contemporary Art is opening an extensive exhibition dedicated to the themes of birth and the beginning of life. Almost forty contemporary Czech artists, led by curator Otto M. Urban, are present at the group exhibition entitled Promising Prospects. The exhibition will be open until April 24, 2022.

The exhibition Promising Prospects with the subtitle The Child in Contemporary Czech Art is a free continuation of the so-called pandemic trilogy, which began with the Vanitas project in contemporary Czech art (DOX, 2020–2021). Also in this case, it is a group exhibition, which presents a wide range of artists of different generations and artistic expressions. After the theme of death, dying and transience, the Hopeful Prospects focus on the themes of birth and the beginning of life, a period full of twists and expectations, apparent innocence and cruelty. The exhibition does not consciously address, for example, the themes of puberty or parenthood, which are in themselves sufficiently specific and broad. It does not even reflect the work intended for children.

A look at the exhibition Promising Prospects. Photo by Jan Slavík, © DOX

“The perception of childhood changes with age and is subject to oblivion, it is an idealized time. The child has become not only the subject of scientific research, but also a powerful business. Novels and poems are written about the child and childhood, films are made, music is composed, while some works persist for generations and become an integral part of the wider cultural canon. I often perceive work for children as simplistic in the first place, copying the repeated clichés of an ideal paradise, which is bathed in the warm sun. But sadness, pain and anxiety also flash in the memories, “says Otto M. Urban, the curator of the exhibition and the main curator of the DOX Center.

Curator of the exhibition Promising Prospects Otto M. Urban. Photo by Lukáš Oujeský, © DOX

In the history of art, the child has appeared since time immemorial, it has always been an important part of the spiritual history of mankind. In contemporary art, the child’s motif is richly represented, perhaps even more strongly than in earlier times. However, the visions and images of childhood are often not friendly, they do not represent a radiant idyll, but melancholy prevails with all its mysteries and anxieties. Naturalism (Magdaléna Rajchlová, Lubomír Typlt) alternates with caricature (Marek Meduna), exaggeration (Veronika Bromová, Jan Vytiska), in some cases childhood becomes monstrous (Andros Foros). The child can also be a symbol or allegory (Ivan Pinkava), he can represent more general topics and questions (Zdena Kolečková).

The promising prospects are represented by the work of almost forty artists, some of whom have been dealing with the topic of the child for a long time. The form spectrum of the exhibited works is rich: from painting (Adam Štech) and collage (Jana Vojnárová) through sculptures (Barbora Balek, Martin Žák) and installations (Kateřina Šedá) to videos (Mark Ther, Martin Zet) and photographs (Jiří David, Václav Jirásek). The oldest works date back to the 1990s (Milan Knížák, Petr Nikl), as well as new works are constantly being created (installation of drawings by Josef Bolf, sculptures by Matouš Háša, paintings by Ivana Lomová).

A look at the exhibition Promising Prospects. Photo by Jan Slavík, © DOX

The exhibition is complemented by quotes from children who participate in educational programs, which form one of the main lines of the DOX Center, as well as a video from the Commander project focused on online radicalization of children and young people. The broader project of Commander Viliam Dočolomanský and the Farm in the Cave theater studio inspired the recent capture of the leader of an international online extremist organization, a 13-year-old boy from Estonia performing under the Commander profile. The planned project includes an art film with children’s representatives, theatrical productions and a series of educational videos and workshops for children and parents, which are to draw attention to this current and dangerous phenomenon.

Not only the studio is dedicated to the exhibition – a space in the immediate vicinity of the exhibition itself, in which visitors can not only experience or recall different life perspectives and scales, but also draw, list and, as the creators of the studio Jiří Raiterman and Lucie Laitlová say, “Put your childhood on the fridge”.

An extensive catalog with philosophical and sociological texts will be published for the exhibition Promising Prospects (planned issue February 2022). The exhibition will also be complemented by a range of programs for the public and schools – from literary events to film screenings to panel discussions reflecting current issues related to childhood, upbringing and education, such as media education or the mental health of pandemic children. 

Promising Prospects The Child in Contemporary Czech Art
10. 11. 2021 – 24. 4. 2022

Curator: Otto M. Urban

Architectural design of the exhibition: Otto M. Urban, Michaela Šilpochová, Leoš Válka

Graphic design: Daniel Korčák

Studio concept: Jiří Raiterman, Lucie Laitlová

Exhibiting artists: Barbora Balek, Josef Bolf, Veronika Bromová, David Černý, Jiří David, Viliam Dočolomanský and Farma v jeskyni, Pavel Forman, Andros Foros, Viktor Frešo, Matouš Háša, Siegfried Herz, Jakub Janovský, Václav Jirásek, Krištof Kintera, Ester Knapová, Milan Knížák, Zdena Kolečková, Eva Koťátková, Ivana Lomová, František Matoušek, Marek Meduna, Barbora Myslikovjanová, Petr Nikl, Daniel Pešta, Jiří Petrbok, Ivan Pinkava, Magdaléna Rajchlová, Michal Rapant, Jaroslav Róna, Nikola Emma Ryšavá, Kateřina Šedá , Adam Štech, Jan Švankmajer, Mark Ther, Lubomír Typlt, Jana Vojnárová, Jan Vytiska, Martin Zet, Martin Žák

Themes of a child in the exhibition Promising Prospects in Prague DOX

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