The sculpture was created as the third variant of the statue of the Reader, originally intended to be installed in front of a public library building. Paradoxically, however, already at a time when the order was long gone and no library showed interest in it. Nevertheless, I then gradually became very interested in the issue of the statue of a man immersed in the world unfolding in the book. Through the reader's statue I wanted to portray both the reader and the imaginative world of the book. I used an armchair for this purpose. The armchair is a soft and soothing wall that protects us from the pragmatic world around us allowing us to escape into the worlds of imagination and fantasy. It is a dreamy armchair, and the reader is intentionally an anonymous and symbolic figure, easily interchangeable with any reader. At the same time, the armchair adds monumentality to the statue reinforcing the significance and importance of this fragile theme. Last but not least, it is also necessary to pay tribute to the world of paper book at a time when it is threatened (and so are we!) by the aggressive world of information technology and castrated e - books.
1.1. — 31.12.2021
The first impulse of this realization was an intention to complement an intimate place of a private garden with seating with sculpture. A bench in the form of a stylized woman has been created and you can nestle down with a book in her arms or sit down face to face to a close person in a confidential conversation. By being placed in the public space, the statue has gained another meaning that is firmly embedded in my work: acting as an island to enliven the street that you usually just pass through, as an opportunity for a short stop enriched with unexpected aesthetic perception, and as a means of rest.
The work was designed in 1997 for this place, where previously was a statue of Lenin as part of the event of the Center for Contemporary Art in response to the Bad Nation's Mood.
The caterpillar was realized in 2001 in Zlín on the occasion of the exhibition of Kurt Gebauer and his students from the Prague Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture. In 2003 it was exhibited on Wenceslas Square in Prague, then it was exhibited in the Mayrau open-air museum in Vinařice near Kladno.
The sculpture was previously installed in front of the Trade Fair Palace in 2020 during Kurt Gebauer's retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery in Prague. Now it arrived here, where the author originally intended it.
Subsequently, it should travel to Zlín for permanent installation on the square.
Martin Steinert is a guest of the residency programme of the Goethe-Institut. He will stay in Prague for three weeks and create his work at the occasion of the Sculpture Line festival. During his stay, he is going to create the Prague version of his “Wooden Cloud”.
For several years, the work of sculptor Martin Steinert has included spatial installations made of ordinary wooden laths. It was people’s great interest in mostly several-week processes of creating objects in public space which has led Martin Steinert to the idea of involving people directly into his work.
In June 2015, Martin Steinert built a monumental sculpture of almost 2,000 meters of wooden slats in the apse of the church of St. John (Johanneskirche) in Saarbrücken. During the four-week creation of the installation, visitors to the church were invited not only to watch the sculptor's work, but even to take part in it themselves. Approximately 1,200 people wrote their personal wishes on prepared wooden slats which Martin Steinert then incorporated into his installation. Their wishes, formulated on the slats as individual manifestos of dreams, hopes and expectations, branched out into thousands of synapses. In this way, an art project called Wooden Cloud – Die Architektur der Wünsche (Architecture of Wishes) was created and set out on its journey.
The wooden cloud floats from Saarbrücken through selected cities of the world and it is always created in a new form in prominent public places. Temporary installations made of wooden slats with inscriptions on them become snapshots of social atmosphere. So far, the wooden cloud has stopped on its way in St. Petersburg in 2016, in Berlin in 2017, in Paris in 2018, and the fifth “Wooden Cloud” was created in Al-Istiqlal Park in Ramallah in 2019. Two more wooden clouds are going to be created in 2020 in Prague and Tirana.
How to support the existence of this sculpture verbally?
According to the educational dictionary, the stela is a vertical stone panel or column, serving mainly as a monument. Mine is far from the monument. Even carved letters are not needed. It's more like a giant sprout playing with colors. It symbolizes the key to joy, a new life that waits hidden and after a time when everything around it looks like a hopeless wasteland, sprouts like nothing out of nowhere in full force.
I am of the opinion that an artist, and above all a sculptor, should not describe and explain his work, as this deprives the viewer of the freedom and space to interpret and perceive the work in his or her own way.
However, to describe what was the motive for the creation of this sculpture, it is simple: It is an eternal contradiction of our Christian moral, peaceful code, and at the same time a constant need to develop ever more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction.
The sculpture was made to order in 2015 to be placed in in a modernized industrial area near the Holešovice harbour which was rebuilt into an administrative-residential complex. Two concrete pedestals, each 4 meters long and 2 meters wide, were constructed in advance for two sculptures (the other one was designed by Stefan Milkov) and embedded into the ground. This meant that the sculpture had to match not only its industrial surroundings and the pre-installed pedestal size, but the other sculpture as well. However, the project did not materialize and remained in the virtual model and visualisation stage. Sometime later, I was approached to create a sculpture for a very similar environment in the Šárka Valley which was also rebuilt — only this time the area was purely residential. I used the already designed Squeeze - Industrial sculpture which was a perfect fit for the location. The sculpture, comprising geometric and biomorphic shapes, evokes a feeling of compression — squeezing. To get the basic idea of the shape, I used an old photograph of a crashed hot-air balloon.
I also assumed that in a residential area the sculpture would serve as an object for children to engage with and play various games around, and I adjusted the shapes accordingly — so that it could be scaled safely and still encourage imagination. The sculpture in the Šárka Valley has a reddish colour of a fired brick, as a reminder that area had been previously occupied by a brickyard. The two-connected-spheres shape gives an impression of expanding and dominating a large space. I later created a second, black-grey cast for open-space exhibitions.
I like to dedicate my sculptures to someone. They are often my favourite architects, writers, philosophers, or poets. Sometimes I dedicate them to places, events or feelings, and moods.
From the very beginning, I made this sculpture with the thoughts of Jan Palach. I started working on it on 19 January 2019, at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of his self-sacrifice (11 August 1948 – 19 January 1969). The event was reminded from all points of view on the radio. It was not possible to do anything else...
The invitation to the exhibition “Celebrating 30 Years of Freedom”, the intent of which was to remind Sydney, Australia, that our country has already been free for thirty years, came at a time when I was working on the Tower for Jan Palach. The organizers accepted the offered statue and used it as a motif of the whole exhibition. My conception of the statue standing on the very edge of a cliff above the ocean with only the blue surface and the endless sky behind was fulfilled. Therefore, it happened that the ocean and the sky were part of the statue and enhanced its mission.
After the exhibition, the organizers decided to move the Tower for Jan Palach 4,000 km to Western Australia to the amazing Cottesloe Beach near Perth. The intention of the installation was brought to even greater perfection there as the statue was placed on a narrow stone cape stretched out deeply to the sea. The accompanying text clarified everywhere who Jan Palach was.
However, I was attracted by the idea of placing the statue in Klatovy as well.
By the time the Tower for Jan Palach sets out to another pilgrimage, it was standing on the site of the statue of the communist president Antonín Zápotocký, with the towers of our city in the background.
(absolute zero, at which all particle motion stops)
Art is in its superposition, that is, it is and is not existing due to an external observer whose sense perception determines how it really is. It exists or takes place in a process at a certain point only on the basis of probability after it is observed...
When, therefore, we are no longer sure whether art is alive (has meaning) or dead (has lost its meaning), we are not sure what is or is not in the container (i.e., in a kind of capsule or shell of mutual agreement, a vault, but especially an incubator).
Whether it remains forever hermetically sealed in absolute zero (impregnable, uninhabitable) for the environment(perceiver, observer), leaving only ideas present, or unfulfilled expectations, desires, space for metaphorical sharing? Or does it ever manage to be reasonably opened and its contents seen revived? But is it not completely empty from the beginning, pretending to be full, to be fulfilled, to be meaningful?
To whom is it addressed, where is it going?
Is the hoisted white flag really a sign, a present symbol of final defeat, collapse, surrender, a sign of death, or is it, on the contrary, a tactical manoeuvre into the future? In other words, is what we are seeing, and precisely because we are seeing it, art in process? Probably yes, for art capitulates and thus necessarily simultaneously emerges. This conscious, or controlled, capitulation makes contemporary art present not only within the anthropological vision of the observer's subject. When, in a closed space, subsets of form with changing shapes emerge independently, which then stage speculative illusions, traces of parallel activities in desires for intense proximities. This is followed by a time of a priori visibility, i.e. the presence of art at its centre.
Pieces of art have been commonplace in parks and gardens since anyone can remember. They may be a discreet accessory, an extravagant jewel, a guide or a centrepiece of the garden's design – and the main reason for its existence. An art piece and its placement in the garden can have a deeply personal meaning, or it can be the result of a meticulously focused architectural intent.
The creations of Alexandra Koláčková are immediately recognizable and her style unmistakable. And yet despite this – or maybe precisely because of this – they set the narration line of the area in motion in so many different ways... They serve as a decorative piece or a climbing frame; they can be the centre of the universe or a tiny surprise hiding under the bench... And that is why I personally value Alexandra's work so much.
Most gardens are not meant to be just observed, but rather used in active ways – their space waiting to be touched, sat on, jogged through... Everything is permitted – even welcome. The same applies to Alexandra Koláčková's sculptures. Their simple, rounded and approachable shapes as well as their larger than life size outright beg to be climbed on. This has a tremendous benefit for a garden architect like me. A garden, with everything in it, should be inviting, welcoming and open to visitors – it should encourage exploration and discovery. In case of Alexandra's sculptures, this is often literally the case, with hands or even whole bodies inviting visitors to sit, lie or rest on them. Whatever they want and whatever they can think of, be it children, their parents or their imagination.
Kateřina Pospíšilová, garden architect