Three New Exhibitions in Brno Commemorate The Artistic Legacy of Woody and Steina Vašulka
The new media art centre, called Vašulka Kitchen Brno, will be presented on this occasion at its new premises in the House of the Lords of Kunštát. Credit: Dům Umění.
Brno, Dec 6 (BD) – Shortly before the end of the year, the Brno House of Arts will welcome three new exhibitions: “Součty a Rozdíly” (“Sums and Differences”), “Brainscape”, and “Otevřený Digitální Archiv a Testovací Laboratoř Pro Živé Publikum” (“Open Digital Archive and Test Laboratory for a Live Audience”).
All of these exhibitions work in their own specific way with the artistic legacy of one of the international pioneers of world video art, Brno native Woody Vašulka (1937–2019), and his wife Steina (born 1940). The new media art centre, called Vašulka Kitchen Brno, which has been curating the legacy of the Vašulka family for a long time, will be presented on this occasion at its new premises in the House of the Lords of Kunštát, opened thanks to the support of the City of Brno.
The joint opening will take place on Tuesday, 12 December, first with the two exhibitions in the House of Kunštát, “Brainscape” and “Open Digital Archive”, at 5 pm, followed by “Sums & Differences” in the House of Art at 6pm, with an accompanying program including a performance at 7 pm by the American composer and artist, Arnold Dreyblatt.
The Vašulkas met for the first time at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, when Woody was studying at the documentary department of FAMU in Prague and Steina studying violin at the Academy of Performing Arts. In 1965, they went to New York together, where they documented the independent art scene and worked on their own work. In 1971, together with the artist Andy Mannick, they founded the cultural facility “The Kitchen”, which initially provided a space for artists working with video, but over time transformed into a multi-genre centre including dance, literature and music.
The Vašulka Kitchen Brno centre, which refers to the New York “kitchen” in its name, aims to preserve and curate the work of the Vašulkas, and develop their legacy through research, artistic experimentation and informal education in the field of new media.
The “Sums & Differences” exhibition will be on display in the House of Arts on Malinovského náměstí, including works by the Vašulkas and the American artist Gary Hill (born 1951), a representative of the second generation of pioneers of electronic image art who was chosen by the Vašulkas themselves as their successor at the Center for Media Studies in New York State University in Buffalo.
The aim of the exhibition, which features works from the 1970s and contemporary pieces, is to outline the common features of their early exploration and subsequent divergence of artistic practices, along with their conceptual, performative and contemplative interpretations of physical and immaterial features. The exhibition was created thanks to cooperation between the House of Arts, Vašulka Kitchen Brno, and the Icelandic LÁ Art Museum, which first hosted the exhibition in 2022. The Brno version will include certain additions to the Icelandic version, such as the Borealis installation by Steina Vašulka. The exhibition will continue until 3 March 2024.
“Brainscape” is an exhibition of works by Alfons Schilling (1934–2013), a Swiss artist who lived and worked mainly in the United States and Vienna. In his work, he was interested in creating the illusion of depth in an image, in the relationship between what our eyes see and what our brain perceives. This led him to consider how random human vision is and how differently it might be organised.
The exhibition, on the first floor of the House of Kunštát, focuses mainly on Schilling’s work from the 1960s, when he collaborated with the Vašulka family, until the 1980s. During this period, Schilling explored various methods of 3D display such as holography, stereo-photography and 3D virtual spaces. The exhibition is held in collaboration with the Archive & Estate of Alfons Schilling in Vienna and will continue until 4 February 2024.
The first exhibition of “Vašulka Kitchen Brno” in its new premises will be the “Open Digital Archive & Test Laboratory For Live Audience”. The exhibition will present not only extensive material from the “Vašulka Kitchen Brno” archive, but also experimental interpretations of this collection by a group of Czech and foreign artists, including Chris Hill, MSHR (Birch Cooper & Brenna Murphy), Michal Kindernay, Jennifer Helia DeFelice, Tomáš Ruller, Dušan Barok and others. Diverse audiovisual material, inventoried systematically in recent years, will be presented in the exhibition in the form of a structured database, and also as an interactive installation of the interdisciplinary project “Vašulka Live Archive”. The exhibition will last until 4 February 2024.To mark the exhibitions, a new podcast, “Dom umění”, will be released on Spotify, providing a closer look at the activities of the Vašulka Kitchen Brno, its past and present, as well as plans for the future. The accompanying program will include guided tours with creators, workshops, screenings and other events. More detailed information can be found at www.dum-umeni.cz.