Thursday, February 19, 2015

process of proposing, (letting it all hang out)

Apex Art Franchise Program Proposal- NEJHORSI BYLO ZE SE NESTALO VUBEC NIC- The worst was, that nothing happened, implying consequence (A sign hanging in the second photograph of the space on our blog)

Pradelna Bohnice is a contemporary project space located 5 km north of Prague's city center. Set on the grounds of the largest psychiatric ward in Czech Republic, it was previously a laundry facility for the hospital’s linens (washing the whole of the institution’s linens- we want to stress the magnitude as it is a very large space) as its name implies (Pradelna means Laundromat). Only female patients worked there under the intense and often strict supervision of male Physicians. I’m not sure if this is true and if we need it in our proposal.) Immediately Within its walls one feels and can imagine the working conditions for hundreds if not of thousands of women who washed (scrubbed) the laundry from 1909 to 1993, and the mechanized way the Institution concealing the hierarchy (between female patients and male Doctors,) between those institutionalized and the institution. This contemporary art space currently sits on the grounds of a fully functioning hospital with roughly 1300 patients and 1000 employees—the past is very much present.

I’m not sure I want the space associated with the female/male paradigm- I think it isinherent in the space and more about those that are marginalized (yes mostly women, but) I’m not sure we have to oversate it in the first paragraph.

Bars still line all windows. The sites and smells that linger in the Institution are still palpable.  I think we either spell out the sites and smells or not mention it. The central entrance has very high ceilings which somewhat dwarf the visitor but is similar to an entrance of a chapel. The interior of the building is still poorly lit, and feels cold and grey. Holes and missing tiles are everywhere, as well as randomly placed slabs of cement where machines and tables were arranged. Sound echoes up, especially high heeled shoes on tile. One feels small here, forgotten. I don’t think I felt that way

Since the collapse of Communism in the Czech Republic, and with the influx of new political systems, more moderate attitudes about women have formed. But what happens with the memories of such a loaded location? How does one reconcile with an inherited past of silence and domination? How can art be a tool for systemic transformation in a place that denied women the opportunity for change for so long? I’m not sure this was the case. Communism tried to erase gender where it could. It saw everyone as potential worker.

Our work speaks to the compounded issue of the silencing of women’s marginalized voices without using a bullhorn. We’re not burning our bras or proposing to paint on canvas with our used tampons. Is it silly that I want to leave the gender open? I know that women as much as men have had a hand in silencing, and following the plans of an institution, I’m thinking of the many nurses that work in hospitals. The planned works quietly create subtle spaces for catharsis. We intervene on the materials of a laundry mat, such as carving portraits of the women inmates on hundreds of on bars of soap, and embroidering inner criticisms on hundreds of flat white sheets hung from laundry lines, as a way to process the inequities of the past and at the same time publicly open a space for intense emotional experiences. Conversations will become social sculptures; Story telling will be a shared exchange. Nothing will be for sale.

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