Messy Desk

by Merry-Beth Noble

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Views of Prague, Winter 2007

I returned to Prague this winter to work with SAIC's Prague Studio Program and to attend the Dekadence Symposium at the Obecní Dům.

As faculty of the program, we also presented our work in the concurrent Dekadence themed exhibition, "Dekadence Dance,"

at Academie of Fine Arts, Prague (AVU) in the AVU Gallerie.

The show was well attended with Czech and American students and faculty at the opening,

along with friends, and of course,


[Image: Prague drawing in Mini-Sketchbook, 2006,
Ink and pencil on paper, 2" x 3"]

Besides showing a small book and decadent "Fire Mask,"

I exhibited several series of new drawings and works on paper presented in arrangements,

[Image: "Bohemian Lion" 2007, (detail)
Gold colored pencil on paper with cut-outs,
8" x 6"]

along with video animations I created while working in Prague.

[Video Still, "Photo Double" 2005]

[Astronomical Clock, Prague,
19 January, 2007]

Some notes on the passage of time:

Always a source of inspiration, Prague never gets old to me and is different every time I visit, yet some iconic views of the city are comforting because they seem to never change over the years.

Even though enduring views of the city are reliably the same, why is it that the impulse to snap a photo occurs, even when we already have the photograph?

Why do we take the same picture again?

When do we stop photographing the landmarks? When the landmarks reside in our home town, does the need to photograph them disappear? Are they less special when they are more familiar?

[Pražký hrad (Prague Castle)]

[View from across the Vltava River, 6th January, 2007.
Beginning of trip to Prague.]

[View from across the Vltava River, 20th January, 2007.
End of trip to Prague.]

Besides capturing images, or "taking" a memory of Prague with a photograph, many others have left their mark behind as a memento for others to see instead.

There is contemporary graffiti

and vintage graffiti,
making it clear to anyone who takes the time to read the names and years, that leaving a sign or a personal mark...

is an act that has been going on for centuries, and graffiti is not a new form of avant garde defiance, but a timeless form of expression. In this way, the signature and date is not only the mark of graffiti, but the claim of authorship; the message to the viewer of the future, that says,

"I was here at this time. Remember me."

One can say, as time passes, the object may stay the same, but the meaning changes.

Once a standard issue vehicle, associated with inferior mechanical quality, now the Tribant is a retro-kitsch object of desire.

Prague still has many of these functioning relics of transportation, such as the Tribant automobile, and the ever-popular Autobus.

On this trip we were able to take an autobus trip to the Holocaust memorial site in the walled city of Terezín.

Besides statistics and stories scripted in the wall text of the museum and recited by the guide, the place itself speaks the most powerfully through its silence.

This is because of the evidence that has been left behind.

The residents of the town during WWII still speak to us today through the objects that remain there. Whether a conscious act to bear witness, or an expression of authorship at the moment of creation, the city and prison of Terezín has these remnants that serve as marks of human lives; images, numbers, words, dates, signatures -- graffiti.

These carvings have been left on a stone doorway outside the prison of Terezín.

Are they the signs from a victim, a captor, or a viewer?



At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Believe me, Prague could never be boring. Every day there's something new: trendy bars, restaurants and clubs to check out, different kind of pubs with excellent beer, and plenty of funky, offbeat art exhibits, concerts, and theater performances.
I was in Prague last month, and it was amazing. Looking at your nice pictures I am so happy that I was visiting so many wonderful places.


Post a Comment

<< Home