This year’s 4+4 arts festival hones in on the problem at Wenceslas Square
The annual multi-discipline and multi-venue contemporary art festival called 4+4 Days in Motion begins in Prague this Friday. Now in its 18th year, the festival looks at some of the controversial and problematic topics surrounding the modern city, through dance and theater performances, an exhibition, public lectures and discussions. In today’s Arts, we speak to the festival’s producer, Markéta Černá, who talked about why they chose a vacant palace, situated on Wenceslas Square, as the main venue.
And Palác U Stýblů, why was it an attractive venue for the 4+4 festival? How will you be using it?
“There are two main parts. One is the palace itself, because it offers a place for a big exhibition of contemporary art, then it offers a space for a site-specific project, for discussions. And then there is the Wenceslas Square itself. We are always trying to point out the place of the festival itself. So, we prepared walks with architects of art historians, who will be giving tours of Wenceslas Square for the public. And then there will be a debate about the future of Wenceslas Square, where we invited the mayors of Prague and Prague 1. It will be about the current state of Wenceslas Square or how it should be changed, what is the purpose and what Wenceslas Square should bring to the inhabitants of Prague.”
“First of all, I don’t like the current state of Wenceslas Square at all, because I don’t understand why it is a parking lot without cars at the moment. It is more of a question for Prague city authorities – what can they provide for the artists to work there and to show their art.”
The main exhibit of the festival is called ‘Problem is Here’. What is the problem? What is it about?
“Well, Wenceslas Square is a problem. And it’s sort of our feeling today that we are surrounded by many problems, and some of the problems are very local and some of the problems are global. And for this exhibition we wanted to find artists and artistic works which show some of these problems.”
And as for the performance art at the festival, this is the first year that you’re hosting an Indian group. Can you tell us a little more about them and what we can expect?
Can you tell us about one or two highlights from the program, the performances you are looking forward to in particular?
“I look forward to the opening performance by Motus, which is political theater, and it’s about Greece and the riots which were there in 2007, when a 15-year-old boy was killed the police and how the riots started. And it’s about corruption, about the things that we are living with, basically. It’s very good. It’s a performance we wanted to present two years ago, and because we didn’t have money last year we couldn’t, but this year it happened and we are really happy to have them here.
And speaking of intergenerational performance and art, you are also holding a symposium on the perception of the elderly by modern artists. I think it’s a very hard topic to talk about, especially in this country where the older generation and the young people are worlds apart. What are some of the answers Czech artists are giving?
“We will see. That’s why we’re holding this symposium. It is a co-production with Elpida, which is an organization which is trying to improve the lives of the older people. And they came up with this idea and we were very happy, because we want to be a festival for everybody, not just for one group of people. So, we will see. There are about 12 visual artists invited to the discussion and we hope that it will bring some positive answers.”
Do you think that in the Czech Republic today, young performance and visual artists reflect on the culture and heritage of their grandparents, or are we still at a stage where they’re trying to get away the communist past and look towards modern-day Europe?
“So, I think it is not exactly mainstream at the moment, but there are artists that are definitely reflection on this topic and they don’t connect it with the communist regime at all these days.”