The vast exhibition hall of the Prague Kunsthalle is full of rubble. Pieces of concrete with steel wires sticking out. Otherwise, there is nothing in the dark hall. But then the space is filled with pensive tones and the walls of the hall are illuminated by projections. Suddenly we are somewhere else: in a desolate landscape with an industrial ruin in the distance, which we can carefully explore for the next 14 minutes. The video installation The Grief of Misfit Cathedrals is a monument to an old world that no one wants anymore.
“They are places on the fringes of society. Places that the vast majority of people do not visit, except perhaps for a few enthusiasts,” says the author of the video installation Jakub Pešek from the audio-visual studio Lunchmeat about the dilapidated industrial architecture. He refers to old factories, grain silos and other types of buildings that create specific areas in the contemporary urban landscape.
Pawn calls them Zones. The name evokes something dangerous, a place where entry is forbidden, where time moves slower than elsewhere and where things happen that defy the laws of physics – just like what happens in the Zone from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker.
In Peška’s work (it is not a film, but something more – a multidimensional experience), one has the feeling of watching an industrial ruin come to life in the Zone. It resembles an ancient, shy animal, which we first observe from a distance and then travel through its bowels. We descend through a dark shaft into the lowest floors of the huge complex, while grains of dust slowly float around us – like blood cells in the bloodstream or plankton in water. We are like in the belly of a whale.
Take a look at the photo gallery from the preparation of the video installation in the Prague Kunsthalle.
The Lunchmeat collective, of which Pešek is a member, is an association of independent artists who specialize in working with new technologies. They are interested in everything audiovisual, immersive, interactive. Going to a concert directed by them, for example as part of their Lunchmeat Festival, means that you will not only hear the music, but also see it: abstract beats get a coat of interactive projections. The goal of the Lunchmeat collective is not to appear flamboyant, but to draw in. That is why they like to organize their events in former industrial complexes.
The factories are reminiscent of sacred buildings and for lovers of dance music they really represent shrines. “They are not sterile places lit by led strips like a lot of other clubs. There is a genius loci that you cannot repeat in any club. And all you have to do is light the old chimney,” explains Pešek.
His video installation, which will be seen for the first time at the start of the friendly Signal festival, was created thanks to photogrammetry, a modern technology that collects data about physical objects and environments through photographs. Pešek and his colleagues carefully mapped several industrial buildings in Prague and Kladno for several months in order to create a model that is a synthesis of the visited buildings.
A photograph of a single piece of rubble can be seen in the back wing of the exhibition hall. Two iron rods wrapped around the concrete resemble arteries. The grief of unwanted cathedrals reveals that even dilapidated factories have hearts.
Výstava: The Grief of Mistfit Cathedrals
Creator: Lunchmeat Studio
Curator: Iva Polanecká
Kunsthalle, Prague, 12 October 2023 – 14 January 2024