Exhibition from Aš to Už/horod: or else heritage

This year we celebrate the anniversary of the First Republic. A project of a textile production studio of the Prague University of Applied Arts, which received  the grant from the Ministry of Education,  provided its students for two semesters with a theme of Czech companies from the First Republic. The project included both the research of facts and the artistic outputs.

Source: https://www.kralovedvorsko.cz/co-se-deje/vystavy/prochazka-mestem-za-historii-rodiny-sochoru

We live in times when the market is overwhelmed with already finished products - while a department store can be found in every small town, galleries are very scarce. This is often true with regards to job opportunities as well. From our ancestors´ point of view, the reason may be seen in our inability to manage and maintain what they already created. For them, the textile industry often formed the alpha and omega of their working career, it was both a livelihood and a lifestyle. Textile factories employed thousands of local people. Factory complexes changed the character of a city and its surroundings as well as the character and confidence of the community.

How specifically? Perhaps the best known example of such a transformation is Baťa's Zlín. But what did it look like in terms of the textile factories? The First Republic, according to the words of the director of the Textile Studio at UMPRUM, MgA. Jitka Škopová, is not an attractive topic for the young artists. She thought to announce this theme based on the fact that she herself with her former classmate Doc. Maria Máňa Fulková (now head of the textile design studio at VŠVU in Bratislava) was given the theme as well during her studies in 1988. "At that time, for us the theme meant one of the first signs of greater freedom, but the outcome had almost a dilettante charge, because we had even less information available than today.” Revealed Škopková at the opening.

Source: Author's archive

The exhibition From Aš to Už/horod opened on Thursday, September 6, 2018, in the large hall of the former Strojtex building in Dvůr Králové nad Labem, the building did not undergo any renovations for these or any other purposes. The dilapidated state of the factory, however, does not overshadow its advantages: the hall is perfectly glassed-in on all sides. And it is not the only memory of the industrial times in Dvůr Králové. One of the students of the atelier chose for her two-semestral work the local Tibu and the Sochor family who were its founders. She, together with experts, guided the visitors through the premises and the landmarks connected to it.

Source: Author's archive

Josef Sochor was a confident Czech entrepreneur who worked hand in hand with the Czechoslovak state (his activity in Dvůr Králové was supposed to create a competition for the the existing German Jewish industrialists). As such, he could not have chosen a different term than The National Style[1] for the name of his weaving mill and his machine canvas printer. Thanks to Pavlik Janak, we have preserved the administrative building TIB[2] and the houses of industrial workers, so-called "Sochorky" (allegedly one of the workers took part in establishing the placement and the look of the kitchen and in return was granted a life-long stay). Nearby stood the Art Nouveau villa housing the headquarters. There were sculptures depicting various textile works from Králův Dvůr native Otto Guttfreund. The interiors of the villa were generously decorated with wooden tiles made by František Kysely[3].



Source: Author's archive

The mosaics of the tombs of the Sochor family at the local cemetery are also his work; five of the six sons of Sochor perished in the concentration camp. The above-mentioned villa served for a period of time as a kindergarten and was later abandoned and not protected as a historical monument. The interior furnishing mysteriously disappeared just before its demolition in 2011. It is exactly this place, or rather its photographs, that inspired the student Judita Volf to create original fabric textures, expressing in a narrative the thoughts of Josef Sochor as a human being consciously forming other people's lives.

Source: Author's archive

The exhibition will definitely not have the character of a travelling rerun that is just encapsulated in the same version - it will always deal with the context (see the program below). E.g. the publication of the catalog, which will serve as an almanac, its conception as an event with a debate on October 28 in Libčice etc. We can see a trend similar to the recent exhibition which opened the new gallery of Osmička in Humpolec - a gallery residing in one of the buildings of a former textile factory, which opened with a great exhibition showing textile in the context of art . This exhibition as well required communication with the local people, who helped greatly to eventually complete a picture of the factory, including the products they brought. This exhibition boldly entered into the unknown waters of the representation of textile in photography, and presented performative and conceptual works such as Lenka Vacková's work of colorless bodies tattooed with fashion brands just so they may be left with small scars only. Tribute was also given to the unusually versatile Humpolec native artist Zorka Sagle.

Source: Author's archive

The exhibition from Aš to Už is different in that it concentrates on the reflection of the development of the textile industry in the environment of textile studio production at UMPRUM. It shows what students are interested in, what worries them, what is the current aesthetics, what importance does ecology or recycling have in their eyes. Those were not only the textile factories that provided inspiration for the project, but also companies such as  SOLO Sušice or Preciosa. Students of the atelier have long been known for their love of experiments , and the textile training provides them mostly with basic skills, as a result for example very environmentally friendly matches can be found at the exhibition. Indeed, sometimes they even completely reverse the logic of the industry: instead of inventing a means of fabric protection against flammability, they turn fire into a tool for creating art. Certainly, even the knot is a piece of fabric and its burning symbolizes the very beginning as is presented in the marvelous work of MgA. Andrew Trnka.

Source: Author's archive

Also more traditional outputs can be found here, such as the Jacquard techniques, blueprints and patterns. BcA.Kateřina Haderková, a student of the master's degree in textile production, was inspired by Poldi Kladno Ironworks. It was not the famous profile of Mrs. Poldi which interested her, but the Wittgenstein family (one of their sons was the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein). Certain mysticities present in the pattern combine unusualness with inconspicuity. The patterns of  the fabrics are not solely there for aesthetic purposes, but by watching them we are peaking through the doors into the future; fashion designers create their collections a year before the season starts, but textile designers even a year before that; they are the ones who predict and create trends.

Source: Author's archive

The exhibition in Dvůr Králové does not stand out for its ingenious strategic installation, which nowadays forms an essential part of any contemporary art exhibition. It is really more of a design exhibition. It is not served up on a silver platter, but can be experienced at the very heart of its creation - among finished products there are various material tests, experiments and even a forgotten tube here and here. Works of the project are associated and related to older works. E.g. a project dealing with the recycling of ubiquitous straws, lace clothing shaped by salt, swimsuits with silicone surfaces or various inflatable objects. (The only thing you can buy at the show is the embroidery book of a studio trainee, the illustrator Dorota Šebková.) There is only one example of an established brand here and those are the knitted blankets by Široko[6] with adventurous motives.



Source: Author's archive

During the first day of the opening the exhibition was visited by the locals, e.g. a regional architect who has long been trying to offer the city a plan for the revitalization of the area, or people who hesitantly admitted that they are the so-called textile lovers and who started to tell their stories and converse with the students present. If you visit, you have the chance, among other things, to offer your point of view n regarding the topic of how the city should deal with the factory in the future.

Project Program

5.– 21. 9. 2018
Dvůr Králové n.L.
- exhibition of works by students of the Studio of Textile Arts at UMPRUM, discussions, walk through the town in the footsteps of the Sochor family and its history

7. 9. 2018
- Discussion related to the Slovak Culture Week focusing on the National Style and the project from Aš to Už

30. 9. 2018
- Discussion related to the Architecture Day, the Gočár Red Villa will be opened as part of the project

4. 10. 2018
- exhibition of works by students of the UMPRUM textile production studio and discussion, This is the first event of the new textile museum

18. 10. 2018
Velké Meziříčí
- discussion and a walk through the city

28. 10. – 28. 11. 2018
Libčice - Uhelný mlýn
- exhibition and discussion, accompanying program of Designblok, baptism of Almanac

28. 10. 2018
- discussion

10. 11. 2018
- discussion

[1]  Cubism-based style using rondocubism elements (i.e. rounded shapes) with folkloric and art deco elements.

[2]  Of which unfortunately only the chimney is declared to be a historical monument.

[3]  Article: Villa of the Sochora factory in Dvůr Králové is threatened with demolition. Available at: https://www.archiweb.cz/n/home/vile-tovarnika-sochora-ve-dvore-kralove-hrozi-demolice

[4]  Tribute to the Skirt: Textile in the Art Context, April 19 - August 12, 2018, Zone 8, Humpolec

[5]  Jitka Škopová ed. Textile and experiment: Textiles and experiment. In Prague: UMPRUM, 2016. ISBN 978-80-87989-28-9.

[6]  http://siroko-daleko.cz/

AuthorTereza Hrdličková