Art School Rejects Finally Accepted

Exploring the Boundaries of Art Without Formal Education

By SylwiaSiemion

Photo courtesy of DOX Facebook page

“Over the Line – One Way Return Ticket” is an exhibit running through June 30 that seeks to explore the creation of art within and without the boundaries of a formal art education. Photo courtesy of DOX Art Gallery

A flat-screen television sits near the entrance, two sets of dangling headphones enticing viewers to come closer. The screen depicts a bizarre scene, as what seem to be animations of crumpled paper move and shift, almost as if dancing to a harmonious tune. Then it gets weirder. With headphones donned, you immediately hear the sounds of loud, raunchy sex blare through the as the crumpled papers continue their dance.

As the initial shock and fascination wear off, most viewers replace the headphones and move on to the rest of the exhibit, leaving the entire four minutes of loud sex unheard. What do loud sex and crumpled paper have in common? The lack of any possible answer to this question is perhaps why the artist of this particular piece was initially rejected from art school.

Or the video might just be a masterpiece that gained the artist later school admission. You, the viewer,  get to decide why this strange work is on view at one of the Czech Republic’s most prestigious art galleries, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague 7. The paper-sex contrivance is part of “Over the Line – One Way Return Ticket” an exhibit running through June 30 that seeks to explore the creation of art within and without the boundaries of a formal art education. Born from an earlier series of “Below the Line” exhibitions, which featured works from artists rejected from public art schools, “Over the Line,” follows nine of the featured artists after their subsequent admissions to art universities.

Curator Tereza Jindrova tasked these nine artists with selecting four works for the exhibition: one from the period prior to their university acceptance, one that received positive evaluation during their studies, another that received negative feedback (including incomprehension) during their studies, and finally a work they would submit during the application process if they were to apply now. So, which category does Jan Hladil’s crumpled paper and sex fall into? Well it’s anyone’s guess.

“What do loud sex and crumpled paper have in common? The lack of any possible answer to this question is perhaps why the artist of this particular piece was initially rejected from art school.”

The exhibit provides both the artists and viewers with a chance to explore the works. The artists were forced into a period of self-reflection and introspection as they had to select older works to reveal alongside their current projects, evaluating their own growth as artists and taking on some of the responsibilities of a curator. The viewers on the other hand, are encouraged to immerse themselves in the works. None of the works are labeled as any one category, and while the exhibit does provide an information packet with all the details, viewers are advised to not refer to it until the end. The nature of the exhibit pulls the viewer into the works of art, enticing them to consider each piece in its many facets as they attempt to sort it into one of the artist’s periods.

One standout was the provocative portraits of Jakub Jurasek, featuring photographs taken under bathroom stalls in an “exploration of the subjectivity of time and intimacy from the perspective of various degrees of nudity.” From photographs to installations featuring radiators, animal eyeballs, and laboratory equipment, Jurasek’s captivating artistic development is but a small part of what the exhibit has to offer.

Photo courtesy of DOX Facebook page

Born from an earlier series of “Below the Line” exhibitions, which featured works from artists rejected from public art schools, “Over the Line,” follows nine of the featured artists after their subsequent admissions to art universities. Photo courtesy of DOX Art Gallery

A page from a comic book showcases the adventures of whimsically rendered characters and invites the viewer to interact. While it is tempting to thumb through the four flipbooks adhered to the page, a pane of Plexiglas protecting the delicate drawing creates a frustrating barrier. Discouraged, the viewer makes must walk around the room towards an iPad. In fact, the iPad displays a full-length comic with the same characters as the paper version.

You can now follow the escapades of the small boy, whose head is bigger than his body and whose body is smaller than the head of a match, with the help of the inviting interface. The touch screen display delivers a new dimension and features modes of interaction that can be achieved only with a digital platform. With the help of a team of artists, Matyas Trnka created the “first Czech interactive comic book of its type,” the exhibition materials claim. The exhibit is accompanied by several lectures and other interactive activities to launch discussion on the art education system, as well as a publication filled with essays from leading figures in the Czech art scene.  

Sylwia Siemion  is in the NYU Steinhardt Class of 2016. Her hometown is Sanok, Poland.

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Categories: Culture, Spring 2014 Issue Number 3, Travel

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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