Experts on helpline field questions about contemporary art

Photo: Denisa Tomanová

If you want to find out about ongoing exhibitions but also the importance of contemporary art in the Czech Republic, this week you can make use of a special helpline. From now until Sunday, well-known curators are picking up the phone to field questions. The temporary helpline is a project created by students at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture in conjunction with the Tranzitdisplay gallery.

Photo: Denisa Tomanová
I spoke to the project’s Bára Fastrová, asking about the idea.

“The aim is to present contemporary art as an ordinary part of life.”

We are used to helplines existing for all kinds of things, but not to learn about contemporary art. There’s a bit of humour there, as well as a practical element…

“Of course. It is meant to be humorous; at the same time, we are aware it is hard to get the public into the gallery because they worry they won’t understand what they are looking at. So we wanted to help with that and to encourage them to go.”

How broad is the scope? How many galleries can the callers find out about?

“In the beginning we wanted as many as possible but in the end we settled on 40 institutions across the Czech Republic, which we were happy to get and which wanted to take part.”

Who are some of the people taking the calls?

“We contacted experts whose opinions we valued the most. Not all agreed to take part but we got 12 professionals who were brave enough to field calls.”

Have you gotten any calls from anyone complaining about modern art or asking what “those scribbles” mean?

“We haven’t had any complaints but something happened that we had hoped for: that people didn’t just ask for information but for recommendations or asked who would win this year’s Chalupecký award. One caller did ask what the meaning of art was that I have to find out what was answered.”