Prague research project (CZ)

Tereza Ondrová, who mainly works as a dancer and performer, is one of the six artists from this second session of Dancing Museums. In cooperation with the organisation Tanec Praha and the Prague City Gallery (Galerie hl.m. Prahy) she is ‘inhabiting’ the six gallery spaces that the Prague City Gallery operates. From Tereza´s perspective the number six somehow magically permeates the whole DM2 project. There are six assigned artists to the project, six museums and galleries throughout Europe participating and in Prague there are also six exhibitions spaces in which Tereza is working. From the very beginning she was also struck by the fact that these six exceptional spaces board the so-callled ‘King´s Road’. King´s Road has it roots in the medieval shape of the city and has been a witness to the turbulent history of this beautiful city. However this exceptional part of the town now has the biggest tourist footfall of the city,  which is difficult and problematic for the inner life of the city centre.   

Crowds of tourists roll along through the King´s Road  from the well known Náměstí Republiky /Republic Square to Prague castle. They appear a human mass, resembling to some extent a strong river current. Buildings that line the way recall the trough that precisely defines their steps through the city of Prague. We are witnessing choreography created by the architecture. The crucial questions is if there is a possibility of disrupting these patterns. Disruption, in this context, is not meant as a rupture but rather an idea that brings an awareness or consciousness of this phenomenon to visitors of Prague. If I can, as a visitor of an unknown city, realise my condition I can then decide my next steps more freely and consciously.  The fascination for these spaces, and the fact that they line this significant road, fuse in a permanent connection the context of the ‘outside’ towards the ‘inside’ – the gallery space. The Kings Road, the historical scenery and her own childhood spent around the Old town Square connect in a wider ensemble. In Tereza´s research, the space where the gallery is found narrates a story on its own, before the exhibition itself. 

The awareness of the route that one takes and the consciousness of being in a space, is a principle that Tereza Ondrová applies to her creative process, including with the participants of her workshops (that were supposed to take place in the respective spaces of the gallery). The workshops were unfortunately interrupted by the pandemic, but we all hope it will be possible to continue with them as soon as possible. 

Spring 2020 foreshadowed a fundamental change that we were all, society as a whole and across borders, going through. If in Dancing Museums (2) we were working from the start with terms such as ‘togetherness’, ‘cooperation’ and ‘sharing’, and then this ‘together’ became a crucial moment of danger, posing a potential danger to individuals, we had to radically rethink how to transform such a project going forward. The goal was how to remain relevant while meeting today’s safety challenges.

The topic of tourism in relation to the gallery spaces remained crucial, as evidenced by the Audiowalk project, which was created as part of Tereza Ondrová’s spring residency and was presented at the Prague Workshop in June. The topic remained the same, but it was necessary to especially consider the form in which other participants could participate in Tereza’s research. This was a fundamental dimension of her work. She was never out of contact with the people around her and her work in workshops, but also other creative processes were created in collaboration with others. People around were the main actors, and also the objects of the whole event. So a completely new question appeared, which had not been raised in the project until then. How to be together when we can’t be together? How to meet together in Prague when we can’t travel? This is why the idea came across to organise a workshop week, which online meetings would be part of because they are unavoidable at the moment, but at the same time try to transform individual activities into offline space. The online is then dedicated to the sharing of what we experienced simultaneously while offline. We didn’t see each other, everyone was where they could, but we were connected in our thoughts.

The main questions for the Prague research project are:

  • How does the gallery space write itself into the surrounding landscape?
  • What is the relationship between tourism and the life of Praguers in this city? And how will the current coronavirus pandemic affect this?
  • How do we look around? How do we engage a different perspective and surprise ourselves and make everyday life a unique experience?

Working with:

Tanec Praha (CZ) // Tereza Ondrová (CZ) // Prague City Gallery (CZ) //