NEWS: 04 05 2023
In the early 1990s, it was a revelation. Since 1992, artists from Western Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia and Africa have been coming to the Baroque Cistercian monastery in Plasy in the Pilsen region for Hermit art symposiums and festivals. The archive from these events, which includes publications, texts, photographs, sound recordings, videos and links to parallel activities in Europe, was received by the Olomouc Museum of Art in 2019 and is now presented in the new exhibition FLASHBACK: Hermit 1992-1999.
"Working with the archive allows for a specific way of storytelling. It builds on individuals that are not very telling on their own, but in context can be made into a plastic whole," says curator Jakub Frank. The exhibition from the Hermit Foundation archive and the Centre for Metamedia Plasy, which summarises the eight-year history of symposia, residencies, concerts and exhibitions at the Plasy Monastery, is based on a selection of these individuals - flashbacks, sudden, clear and powerful memories that evoke a sense of reliving a past experience. "This creates a mosaic that aims to convey the unity of place and time," adds Jakub Frank.
The archival part of the exhibition, presented in the exhibition hall Kabinet, presents Hermit through archival materials, photographs, video documents, sound recordings and original works that were created or exhibited in Plasy. "The photographic exhibition 9&9, which took place in Plasy in 1981 and became an inspiration for Hermit, also has its place here," explains Miloš Vojtěchovský, co-author of the exhibition and main organiser of the symposium.
The second part of the exhibition is in the Salon, where two works by artists who participated in the symposia in Plasy will be presented in turn, and are now preparing works that build on their work there. The first is the interactive sound installation Trans(port)(l)ation by Dutch artists Mario van Horrik and Petra Dubach, which, among other things, sets to music the timetables of Olomoucs means of transport, and it will be followed in July by the audiovisual environment O-neighbourhood, which will be created during a performance by Petr Nikl and Ondřej Smeykal.
ROOTS, DEVELOPMENT AND DEMISE
Hermit was founded as an informal organisation in 1992 by Miloš Vojtěchovský and the Friends of Art Society Plasy. In the following years, under its banner, they organised nine symposia, residencies and exhibitions, which were attended by nearly five hundred artists from all over the world.
In 1996, Hermit received a grant from the Pro Helvetia Foundation, which enabled the establishment of the Centre for Metamedia Plasy - an institution that was intended to provide a base and focus in Plasy for artistic activities that were marginalised by traditional exhibition institutions, while serving as an important node in a network of similarly focused organisations in Europe and worldwide. The Hermit Foundation and the Centre for Metamedia aimed to contribute to the connection of contemporary Czech art to the international artistic context and to present contemporary forms of art across categories and genres. Visual art was quite naturally presented in the context of contemporary music and performing and scenic forms. The artistic realisations that emerged on the site were united by ephemerality and therefore respect for local history and architecture. It was the first time that new media and sound works or contemporary experimental music were presented in such a concentration. A key effect of Hermit was the informal network of relationships between artists, curators and theorists, as well as ordinary visitors, that emerged on the spot and from which the participants at the time still draw today.
The activities of Hermit and the Centre were discontinued in the early 2000s due to the exhaustion of the organisers. This was also influenced by unsuccessful negotiations with the administration of the monastery and the Heritage Institute about the conditions of use of the premises.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication of the same name, presenting the atmosphere of the events that took place in Plasy and what remains of them today. Over forty authors have contributed to the publication and it contains expert and summarizing texts by art historians, as well as memories of artists and organizers and rich photographic documentation. The launch of Flashback: Hermit 1992-1999 is scheduled for Thursday 15 June and will be accompanied by a concert by Irena and Vojtěch Havel.
The events that took place between 1992-1999 in Plasy, West Bohemia, have not yet been comprehensively treated in a professional manner, and their impact is thus more on the level of professional consensus and contemporary sentiment. Nevertheless, they are an important testimony to the international artistic and non-institutional exhibition activity in the 1990s in the Czech Republic.