In Their Eyes …

27/10–9/12/2016 – House of Arts – Ústí nad Labem (CZ)
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Hannes Egger, Memory, 2016 (Foto: Maria Gapp)

Artists: Stefano Cagol (Italy), Nemanja Cvijanović (Croatia), Hannes Egger (Italy), Igor Eškinja (Croatia), Michael Fliri (Italy), Miroslav Hašek (Czech Republic), Zdena Kolečková (Czech Republic), Richard Loskot (Czech Republic), Michaela Thelenová (Czech Republic), Slaven Tolj (Croatia)
Curators: Camilla Martinelli (Italy), Michal Koleček (Czech Republic)
Exhibition Opening: 7/9/2016 at 5 pm
Open: TUE–SAT 10 am–6 pm, Free entry every Wednesday

The exhibition project In Their Eyes… focuses on the presentation of the artistic stance arising from the specific environment of the three central European regions with a mix of national minorities, located on the border of different linguistic, cultural and geopolitical influences. From a historical perspective, a number of important, truly historic events serve as the common element for the locations in question – Istria, South Tyrol, and Sudetenland – as well as numerous bonds and relationships. All these locations were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy for several centuries and it was rather complicated for them to build their own identity in pursuance of a new post-war structure of Europe. The mounting international and social tension controlling the inner and outer
temper of the inhabitants finally came to a head. During the tragic events accompanying the onset, the course of and the aftermaths of World War II, the attempts to radically and to some extent irreversibly solve the issue of ethnic groups escalated in these regions. Yet it is obvious, that the consequences of these dramatic processes fundamentally co-determine the political organization and mainly the socio-cultural atmosphere of these regions up to the present time.
The individual authorial works bordering the divergent map of this project examine the issue of co-existence of different national groups in a shared space from various perspectives with an accent put on a hyperbolical and often subjectified interpretation concerning the historic demonstrations or an immediate reflection of their current development following the logical catenation of the preceding causalities. The curators tried to display, in this indicated context, mainly artistic works that put an accent on
the topic of difference in general and provide a bipolar view on the mental, linguistic or cultural specifics of a given community. The title of the exhibition – In Their Eyes… – itself reminds us of a metaphorical combination of different attitudes, referring to our way of perceiving others as well as the reflection of our subjectivity in the eyes of those who surround us.
The works of ten artists from the Czech Republic, Croatia and Italy construe real stories, sometimes inconspicuously but still fatally influenced by the course of the “big history” indivisibly intertwined with the intimacy of family mythology, the topography
of re-appropriated places and the attractiveness of the material heritage containing the fleeting touch of our ancestors. However, they still look back at the state of the current identity, which connects the past with the pressing challenges of the current
society. The presence of the identity again raises the questions following the dilemmas concerning the increasing number of negative demonstrations that pose a threat to the ethical integrity and the democratic potential of current political systems as well
as individual communities.
It may seem to some people that we live in a world that is better than the one that shaped the character of the regions in question and their inhabitants in the course of the last century, the world that was determined by war conflicts and the tyranny of totalitarian regimes. Still a tendency towards impulsive and goal-directed solutions that give a priority to short-lived and limited benefit can be more and more often seen in the social discourse. Such reasoning necessarily leads to the polarization of the community and increases the risk of the emergence and success of populistic ideologies and mechanisms limiting the individual freedom and disrupting the search for democratic solutions to natural societal antagonisms and conflicts.
The artistic statements presented to the public at the exhibition In Their Eyes… incite associations rising from the pictures of the past and confront them with the motivations of our present decisions. And we are surprised to notice our willingness to take part in making faulty decisions in concrete situations; decisions and solutions we, in accordance with popular opinion and from the historical perspective, naturally condemn.
The exhibition In Their Eyes… was displayed in Kunsthalle Eurocenter Lana near the city of Merano in South Tyrol this September. The next stop after the Ústí nad Labem House of Arts will be the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka in 2017.
The project is based on the cooperation of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka and the Kunsthalle Eurocenter Lana.
The project was funded and supported by the Faculty of Art and Design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně in Ústí nad Labem, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, The Statutory City of Ústí nad Labem, the Ústí Region, and Werkbank Lana.

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