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Confrontations: Sessions in East European Art History

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Hop Field Art

By Maja Fowkes, on 5 November 2019

Curator and art historian Marie Klimešová recounted to the group how her work progressed in the Czechoslovak art scene in the 1970s and 1980s, working outside official institutions and despite the challenges of the Normalisation period. She explained that her university courses at the Art Academy never went beyond Kandinsky and Brancusi for ideological reasons; nevertheless she was drawn to contemporary art and staged several exhibitions of “forbidden” artists (such as Jiří Sopko and Karel Nepraš), whose striking aesthetics, dark humor, and defiant spirit she admired.

One of her most impressive undertakings was a large-scale land art symposium held in 1983 at Chmelnice, in a hop field outside Prague and supported by the local Agriculture Cooperative. The artists, both Czechoslovak and from outside the country, included Magdalena Jetelová, Stanislav Zippe, Čestmír Kafka, Jitka Svobodová, Ivan Kafka, and Vladimir Merta. They made inventive use of the system of tall constructions made of 9 metre tall wooden poles that hop plants require in order to grow. The days long symposium created a sense of community among the artists, but unfortunately the works were destroyed almost immediately by the same members of the cooperative which hosted the participants on the demand of the authorities.

(Corina Apostol)

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