Czechia returns to Milan Triennial after fifty-year break

Krištof Kintera - 'Out of Power Tower', photo: archive of Museum of Decorative Arts

After a break of nearly 50 years, the Czech Republic will be participating in the Milan Triennial, a prestigious international showcase for contemporary artists and designers. The Czech Republic will be represented by two works of art, Out of Power Tower by Krištof Kintera and Lithopy by Denisa Kera, which explore the theme of energy wastage and mocks the current craze for cryptocurrencies.

Krištof Kintera - 'Out of Power Tower',  photo: archive of Museum of Decorative Arts
The 22nd edition of La Triennale di Milano, which gets underway this Friday, is titled Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival and explores people’s fractured relationship with the planet. The main exhibition brings together 120 architecture and design projects from all over the world. The Czech showcase was produced by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and explores the problem of mineral extraction, scarcity of resources and man’s drive for endless energy production.

Helena Koenigsmarková, head of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, outlines the details:

“We approached Krištof Kintera because he focuses on the theme of broken nature and exploitation of the planet and he created a new sculpture made of used batteries. He assembled them into a tower called Out of Power Tower. The used batteries represent the waste of energy and what happens with it after we use it. It’s really very impressive.”

“Frankly the installation was very demanding. It was transported to Italy by a truck and it was built thanks to Kintera and his friends and colleagues. So we are really curious how people will respond to it.”

Another Czech project, called Lithopy, was created by artists Denisa Kera and Petr Šourek, and reacts to the recently discovered lithium reserves in the Czech Republic and to the current boom in crypto-currencies. Using a multi-screen movie, it presents a utopian community, located in the close vicinity of lithium reserves, where people use satellite and drone data to govern all their affairs.

Lithopy,  photo: archive of Museum of Decorative Arts
The Milan Triennial, one of the oldest events of its kind, was established in 1923 in Monza before moving to Milan ten years later. Czechoslovakia took part already in its first edition and has since won a number of awards.

Among the Czech artists who won a Golden Medal at the Milan Triennial were graphic designer Ladislav Sutnar, photographer Josef Sudek or stage and exhibition designer František Tröster. After a break of several years, at the peak of the Cold War, Czechoslovakia successfully returned to the Milan Triennial in 1957 and, according to Helena Koenigsmarková, celebrated the country’s biggest success so far:

“I think the biggest success was really the year 1957, which was followed by Expo in Brussels the year after. The flourishing arts and design in Czechoslovakia, which wasn’t easy to show in our country itself, was very successful for representation abroad. Also, 1957 was organised by our museum, so there is a kind of tradition.”

The 22nd International Exhibition of La Triennale di Milano will run in the north Italian city until September 1.