If Not When, Who. Occupation Strike at AAAD in 1989
November 15th to December 14th, 2019
Opening: Thursday, November 14th, 2019 at 6 pm
Gallery UM, UMPRUM, nám. Jana Palacha 80, Praha 1
Open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
The exhibition If Not When, Who. is a look back at the occupation strike at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague, which took place shortly after November 17th, 1989. Its curators, Klára Peloušková and Vojtěch Märc, depict the preserved visual and textual material of the days when the AAAD students participated in the changes in the political organization and functioning of the school.
The student occupation strike of the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague began - similarly to other universities and academies - on Monday, November 20th, 1989, and its intensity gradually faded away over Christmas. Following the events of the 17th November, the AAAD students expressed their disagreement with the current political organization and management of the school. Thanks to available reproduction technologies, they were involved in the revolutionary boiling mainly at the level of “information struggle” between demonstrating citizens and state authorities. Internal and general political negotiations, practical procurement and the necessary administrative tasks in which students at the time of the employment strike were accompanied by an atmosphere of collective engagement, togetherness, and creative spontaneity.
Klára Peloušková and Vojtěch Märc collected various documents related to the revolutionary events at AAAD. Mainly they processed written records, photographs, videos, posters, leaflets, letter dies and films used for reproduction, which served to inform the inhabitants of Prague and regions about recent events, the requirements of the revolutionary movement and the planned general strike.
“The fragments of visual and textual records related to the occupation strike at the AAAD can be analyzed on many reciprocally permeable levels. In addition to creating meanings and distributing intangible messages, we also emphasize the material aspects of paintings, not only concerning artistic focus of the school but also regarding the levels of aesthetics and media literacy, which predetermine the possibilities of interpretation and formation of its historical memory. In addition to the archive documents from the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design, the exhibition also presents several audiovisual recordings or works that help to broaden the interpretation of past events and to some extent generalize and update them”, as Klára Peloušková and Vojtěch Märc clarify the selection of artifacts.
The title of the exhibition “If Not When, Who” is derived from the well-known saying “Who, if not us? When, if not now. The distortion calls for a reconsideration of questions about the then and now of revolutionary subjects and contexts. It points out how the meaning or nonsense of events manifests itself as contradictory political memories. Looking back at 1989, the exhibition is conceived rather as a challenge to reflect on the possibilities of today's academic engagement and the economies of painting: without unnecessary illusions, or paralyzing skepticism.
Curators: Vojtěch Märc and Klára Peloušková
Graphic Design: Cindy Kutíková and Jiří Mocek
Architect of the exhibition: Vojtěch Rada