Jindrich Polák, Ikarie XB-1 [Voyage to the End of the Universe]. Courtesy of the National Film Archive, Prague
Museum as hub
Tranzit, an international organization, transforms the Fifth Floor gallery of the New Museum into the simulated interior of a spaceship. The vessel will visually recall the iconic Czech science-fiction film Ikarie XB-1 (1963), which melded postwar utopianism with Soviet utilitarianism. On view in and around the spacecraft will be fifty-plus artworks, mainly video, but also sculpture, print, and installation, by artists hailing from cities around Eastern Europe, notably Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, and Bratislava, all of whom Tranzit has worked with previously.
Schizopoetry, courtesy of Babi Badalov
Tranzit consists of a network of autonomous but interconnected organizations based in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Much like the Museum as Hub (the New Museum’s international partnership through which the exhibition is produced), Tranzit organizations actively collaborate with each other to produce art historical research, exhibitions, and new commissions.
Jiri Kovanda, XXX, November 19, 1976 courtesy of GB Agency, Paris
The exhibition offers an allegory of “anthropological science fiction”, where the exhibition space becomes an estranged and exciting universe that dramatizes the cross-cultural translation involved in the presentation of art. The unique model evokes the challenges that contemporary artists experience in exhibiting works, or that curators come across in organizing exhibitions that stitch together diverse art, selected across generation, cultural context, personal narratives, and time.
Eva Koťátková, Dílo přírody, 2011 courtesy of Raster Gallery
The installation will include pieces by artists including Babi Badalov, Josef Dabernig, Miklós Erdély, Eva Koťátková, and Jiří Kovanda, among many others. The spacecraft’s interior will also be used for conversations (via Skype) with participating artists, other curators, and critics—these discussions will be open to the public. About the ambitious three-month project, Tranzit writes, “we hope for the exhibition to make the facts of time relativity, cultural translation, and spatial distance not only explained by curatorial conventions (texts, wall labels) but also performed by the visitors as they move inside the space and experience it as explorers, interested and disoriented by the new terrain they’re discovering.”