New exhibition showcases lifestyles of Czechs from various classes

Exhibition 'Passersby' by the Pomezí theatre ensemble

Those wanting to get an idea of how Czechs from different socio-economic backgrounds live can currently do so at a unique new exhibition in Prague’s Karlín neighbourhood. Inspired by a sociological study commissioned by Czech Radio, the exhibition consists of six model apartments, each showcasing the way of life of a fictitious inhabitant.  

The Kolemjdoucí, or Passersby, exhibition gives visitors the rare chance to enter an apartment building in Prague’s Karlín neighborhood and freely explore several dwellings inside. The exhibition is organized by the Pomezí theatre ensemble and consists of six miniature apartments, with each flat representing the home of one fictitious inhabitant from a distinct social class.

Barbora Klapalová, the head of the exhibition’s creative team, told Czech Radio that the goal of the project is to encourage visitors to overcome stereotypes when thinking about people from different backgrounds.

Exhibition 'Passersby' by the Pomezí theatre ensemble | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

“The main aim is to show people more about others, for instance those that they pass on the street, and to demonstrate that these passersby are really different than they may seem at first sight.”

The theme of exhibition is inspired by the study Divided by Freedom, which was commissioned by Czech Radio in 2019. Investigating both economic and socio-cultural factors, the study found that Czech society was stratified into six social classes, including the worst-off “impovrished class” as well as the prosperous “emerging cosmopolitan” and “secured middle” classes.

Exhibition 'Passersby' by the Pomezí theatre ensemble | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

In creating their new exhibition, the Pomezí ensemble teamed up with one of the co-authors of the study, sociologist Martin Buchtík.

The exhibition is a so-called narrative space, which makes use of scenery and props to tell a story. Visitors can investigate the interior design and personal belongings in the flats to glean information about the lives and characters of the fictitious residents. They include a nurse from the “endangered class” or a well-off young man belonging to the “emerging cosmopolitan class”. Barbora Klapalová says that the exhibits aim to offer more than just a static view of the inhabitants’ lives.

“When we explore each flat, we can find out how the people who live there became who they are. Because are all shaped by our family, childhood, and different approaches to life that we learn from our parents.”

Each of the exhibits also contain the residents’ primary school pictures. Klapalová explains this common link between each flat.

Exhibition 'Passersby' by the Pomezí theatre ensemble | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

“All the residents are between 27 and 30 years old. The main point is that they all come from a similar environment, having each attended the same primary school. People sometimes forget about the fates of their schoolmates from primary school. But former schoolmates with different social backgrounds often go on to have very different lives. At the primary school level, class boundaries are still very permeable, so it’s an area where six people from very different social classes can meet.”

Exhibition 'Passersby' by the Pomezí theatre ensemble | Photo: René Volfík,  Czech Radio

According to Klapalová, the Kolemjdoucí exhibition is meant to be a combination of an artistic and sociological project. The exhibition is located at the address of Za Poříčskou bránou 7, a short walk from the Florenc metro station.