Curators Jitka Hlaváčková and Elis Unique: We are constantly moving at the interface of the physical and virtual worlds

More than 420 artists from 59 countries applied for open calls this year. What are similar auditions like?

Unique Elis: An open call on the topic “Virtual body of society” divided into four categories: video art, video installations, live performances in Prague and live shows realized remotely using live streaming. In the first stage, the project curator evaluates the proposed project in terms of artistic quality, relevance to the topic and suitability of its presentation in a festival format that works with public spaces.

We then submit the selected projects for approval by the director of the Prague Biennale Foundation, which is the organizer of the festival, Helena Kontová, and then we discuss their overall technical and dramaturgical feasibility with the festival team.

How many works or artists did you choose in the end?

Jitka Hlaváčková: Based on the projects received as part of the open call, we selected 15 videos, 4 live performances and included 2 projects in the group exhibition Tree, Man, Animal, Machine. About the hybrid community. The author of these two works is Peter Bill who prepared a documentary about seven trees that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the second work is the Be-coming the Tree collective project, behind which is the Estonian artist Jatun Risba. In addition, we can mention that our star of the year, the artistic duo VestAndPage, exhibited at the U Kamenného zvonu house in the Old Town Square, originates from last year, and this year they became residents of the Prague Biennale Foundation. Likewise, this year we also collaborated for next year with several artists whose projects were not feasible, especially for financial reasons.

On the other hand, what can you offer artists as organizers?

Unique Elis: Re-connect Art Festival continues the twenty year tradition of the successful Prague Biennale. This is also why we are able to offer visibility on an international scale, which our participants, especially foreign ones, find attractive. Unfortunately, due to low budgets, we are currently unable to offer royalties to all participating artists. Financially, we mainly support the creation of new works compiled for the festival either as part of the direct program or through the Prague Biennale Foundation’s residency program, the output of which forms a major part of the festival’s exhibition.

Events take place in Prague, on three main routes. Who voted for them?

Unique Elis: In a way, it’s about the decisions of our curatorial team, and then about the negotiating skills of the production team. Several locations have proven themselves in previous years: Campus Hybernská, piazzetta National Theatre, Náplavka… But since this year, apart from live performances (so-called pop-up programmes), the festival has filled several locations with physical exhibition installations throughout its duration (from 13 to 30 July).

The exhibition spaces we use are not entirely distinctive: above all they are the stunning Gothic crypt of the Prague Capital Gallery in U Kamenné zvon building, the glass gallery of the Prague Creative Center in the archway of the U Minuta building, the exhibition cellars by Vltava: Galerie (A)VOID in Rašínov nábřeží and Kobka 17 in Hořejší nábřeží. The goal is to appeal not only to the professional art audience, but also people who don’t visit galleries to see contemporary art.

The theme for this year’s event is Virtual Body of Society. What should I imagine under that?

Jitka Hlaváčková: Today, people are constantly moving at the interface of the physical and virtual worlds. It is a new layer of life that few can escape. We communicate with friends through digital platforms, organize work meetings online, contact public administrations, shop online, follow events in the world… It presents us with problems as well as opportunities. For example, our exhibition of artists of the Iranian diaspora is an example of how, after the death of Mahsa Aminí in September 2022, a wave of resistance under the slogan Freedom of Life for Women spread through social media among Iranians around the world and, we hope, has the potential to contribute to the democratization of this country.

Reconnect-Art 2023

  • International performance festivals, in their forms and themes, reflect the current state of society, which today naturally moves between physical and virtual activities. Through exhibitions of multimedia installations, live performances and projections of video artwork, as well as debates and workshops, it is possible to experience and compare the approaches of artists from diverse cultural contexts from dozens of countries on the streets of Prague.
  • You can find the full program of the festival HERE.

However, at the same time, virtual communication carries risks. The notion of reality we perceive through it is distorted in many ways, including algorithms that favor the interests of various power groups and corporate companies, which are a more subtle and subtle form of manipulation than an already insidious disinformation campaign. Not to mention that the overall increase in the (un)desired flow of information has a significant negative effect on the human psyche.

Reconnect Art following the Prague Biennale. Is this event over?

Jitka Hlaváčková: Last year held in 2013 at the site of delivery station Žižkov… It was the global pandemic that inspired us to create a new hybrid format of the Re-connect Art show and multimedia festival in 2021, which allows remote participation and explores the possibilities of adapting today’s technology for artistic purposes. Today, we may be circling back to the original purpose of exhibition art shows, but in a significantly updated format.

And how do you choose the date to Reconnect Artu? Is mid-July ideal for you?

Unique Elis: We like the holiday season from a relative certainty standpoint with regards to the weather, which is a relatively important condition for hosting an event outside, outside. At the same time, for those who live in the city or come as tourists, it offers various combinations of entertainment and relaxation with art and living in beautiful places in the center of Prague.


Looking for outdoor art?

Yes, I don’t care about the season at all

A total of 4 readers voted.

Reconnect Art started. This will offer the company’s Virtual Body

Camilla Salazar

"Unapologetic social media guru. General reader. Incurable pop culture specialist."

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