Biennale Matter of Art

21. 7. – 23. 10. 2022

The second edition of Biennale Matter of Art takes place from July 21 to October 23, 2022, at the Prague City Gallery, the General University Hospital, and the Šaloun Studio* in Prague. The Biennale is curated by members of the international curatorial group comprising Rado Ištok, Renan Laru-an, Piotr Sikora, and On the occasion of the biennale, will publish a bilingual anthology of texts that will further develop the thematic anchoring of the project from various artistic, critical, and historical perspectives. The exhibition and public program is open to the public free of charge.

(*Accessible only until 11 September 2022)

What is life imagined in violence?

What is life imagined in violence? In other words, how can we let the soft be soft? The second edition of the biennale Matter of Art invites the public to explore diverse artistic positions that reiterate these intertwined questions in various affective registers, media, and outputs. The choir of voices that is at times consonant and at times dissonant seeks know-how for undermining the bold narratives that revolve around heroic, autonomous figures who exert extraordinary power to overcome obstacles. Where does the saying about the events which make us stronger unless they kill us come from, and what is the actual meaning of the word “stronger” anyway? In contrast to this proverb, the art presented in the exhibition weaves together different stories of essentially vulnerable bodies and deficient systems dependent on and inseparable from other bodies, the environment, and infrastructures. The artworks have been selected with an awareness of the various power dynamics and hierarchies we all have to position ourselves within. The exhibition incorporates the “minor” perspectives of children, enthusiasts, kidults, and introverts as well as the “poor” experiences of the chronically ill, the prematurely deceased, and the monstrous as agents who act, create, and deliberate meanings. The works understand that the violence of the present conditions is rooted in historical traumas, that the past lurks behind contemporary crises such as pandemics or wars. Sometimes, like in this exhibition, bodies and matter reimagine their experiences through art. While we have been taught that suffering will strengthen us or that a cure will end trauma, we propose an alternative task: nourishing our soft spots.

The biennale is a part of the project / Biennale Matter of ArtCenter and Periphery: Cultural Deserts in Eastern Europe,” which is supported by grants from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (EEA Grants) in the scope of the Culture Program. The exhibition is being held with the support of the minister of culture of the Czech Republic, Martin Baxa, and Prague city councilor Hana Třeštíková. The main partner of is the ERSTE Foundation.