HIGHWAY MINDWAY - Exhibition of Studio of Photography II in London

Exhibition of students from the Royal College of Art, London, and UMPRUM, Prague

February, 24th - June, 30th 2023

London's Czech Centre Vitrínka Gallery including outdoor spaces, Kensington Palace Gardens, London

HIGHWAY MINDWAY - Exhibition of Studio of Photography II in London

The Czech Centre London, in cooperation with the Royal College of Art and the Studio of Photography II of the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague (UMPRUM) under the direction of Alena Kotzmannová and Tomáš Souček, have prepared an exhibition of student works for British visitors, highlighting the necessity of perceiving public space and improving city life. More than twenty students participated in the project called "Highway Mindway." The Embassy of the Czech Republic in London is also involved in the implementation of the exhibition. 

The new exhibition, which will be on display from February 24th at the Vitrínka Gallery (exhibition space of the Czech Centre London), offers visitors a new perspective on architecture, with a particular emphasis on the need to change the overall perception of public space. Four teachers from the British Royal College of Art (Wiebke Leister, Gary Clough) and the Studio of Photography II at the Prague UMPRUM (Alena Kotzmannová, Tomáš Souček), together with Ukrainian architect and photographer Alex Bykov, have prepared a multimedia exhibition project in collaboration with curator Michal Nanoru. During the semester-long online meetings, discussions on the topic were conducted, resulting in photo series, videos, photographic zines, and especially site-specific installations that were created in dialogue directly for the gallery space. The young artists were inspired by Josef Pleskot's lecture held on the 20th of October last year, during which he presented his vision of the future of Prague's highway.

"The exhibition project Highway Mindway by students of two prestigious art schools of the Royal College of Art in London and UMPRUM in Prague is not only exceptional in its artistic treatment of the exhibition installation but especially the opportunity for mutual creative cooperation, artistic inspiration and personal acquaintance of students," stated Přemysl Pela, Director of the Czech Centre London.

For several years now, the issue of the Prague highway has been one of the topics discussed not only in professional circles. The highways generally "connect" or "cross" linearly, sometimes creating an unbreakable barrier. Part of the title of the exhibition Mindway, (flow of ideas) is based on sharing the students' knowledge and purposefully accentuating the importance of being aware of the environment and how it can (not) be influenced individually. Students from diverse backgrounds came out of the lived reality of "their cities" on different continents. The exhibition explores life (not only) around motorways but also permeates the environment of large urban agglomerations alongside London, Prague, and the Chinese port of Yantai.

"Based on the vision presented by architect Josef Pleskot, we are aware that the highway can be perceived in different ways. The thoroughfare, which divides the city center into two areas and has been a barrier for pedestrians so far, does not have to be only negative in the future. It points to the potential for new uses and the ability to view the issue of the "highway" through the reverse view of the "mindway", e.g. as a future urban boulevard, a cultural leisure zone. Highway Mindway is a challenge to think differently about public space and its shaping through interventions that can build on and reformat the existing structure," said Alena Kotzmannová, Head of the Studio of Photography II, UMPRUM.

The three-month collaboration has led the students to a variety of metaphorical approaches. The exhibition combines photography with objects, spatial installations with projection, and smell with sound. The main message is unanimous: to improve life in the city, it is essential to begin to perceive the environment in which we live.

Project led by: Wiebke Leister, Gary Clough (RCA); Alena Kotzmannová, Tomáš Soucek, Alex Bykov (UMPRUM) and curator Michal Nanoru.

Exhibiting: Eduard Babák, Ziyang Chen, Alžbeta Chrudimská, Amanda Cornish, Radka Cejdíková, Connor Dillman, Lukáš Hlavín, Barbora Hostašová, Adriána Ingeli, Sumit Jha, Ondrej Kubeš, Jess Lee, Lilit Lysa, Lorenzo, Syrena Xueyi Ma, Viktorie Macánová, Deborah Menšlová, Vlado Nedkov, Šimona Nemecková, Polina Nochka, Kristína Opálková, Stanislav Palát, Miriam Pružincová, Abir Sheikh, Arina Siryk, Lukáš Skála, Mizuki Sukagawa, Annie Tempest, Apolena Typltová, Athena Wang, Margot Wilson, Adéla Zlámalová, Tatiana Zvolská, Barbora Žentelová

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