Dominik Lang: Investigating the Cause
The project entitled Investigating the Cause by Dominik Lang (1980), one of the most conspicuous artists of the contemporary generation, brings us back to the moments immediately following the fire. Lang initially planned to present his project Sleeping City, which he had previously created as the Czech Republic representative for the pavilion Cechoslovakia at the 2011 Venice Biennial and in which he played on a fictitious dialogue between two generations of artists - sculptor Jiří Lang and his son Dominik. The preparatory works for the National Gallery, nonetheless, showed that the Venice installation somewhat could not mechanically copy any exhibition space "as such". Thus, the Fair Trade Palace - which keeps embodying a certain icon, a constantly and continuously discussed subject - eventually made Lang develop a completely different project in which he resolved to contemplate the place itself. Langʼs point of departure here becomes the 1974 fire and the ensuing search for the appropriate use of the torso of the original building. Evoking the extinguished fire serves as a background for presenting the situation of that time and it simultaneously shows how the spaces of the Trade Fair Palace had been employed before the fire - lots of small offices divided by hardboard partitions, stuffed with office furniture with cabinets full of papers.
The installation combines several approaches characteristic of Dominik Langʼs hitherto work - his interest in the mechanisms of the gallery traffic (which is almost unexpectedly often influenced by the very place where a gallery, in our case an art museum, is located) and in confronting viewers with an exhibition space itself.
The installation Investigating the Cause represents the point zero; the time right after the fire which offered many possibilities, many solutions. Considering our present-day knowledge and experience based on the current operation of the Trade Fair Palace provides for developing (or creating a platform for opening) new analyses and discussions which can show that the roots of the todayʼs problems of the Palace, of the modern and contemporary art which it houses and, eventually, of the people linked with it may lie elsewhere.
An inseparable part of the project or, maybe, it crucial part is three varying live Saturday afternoons with Dominik Lang and guests from the ranks of curators, artists, visitors, theoreticians, eyewitnesses, firemen, technicians... It will link the real and fabricated archive textual, photographic and literary material with seeking the cause and effect, and the staged and real discussion with both past and present participants of the situation "after the fire". The outputs of the discussions will gradually be presented as part of the installation.
Curator: Helena Musilová
Collaboration: Světlana Michajlová, Ivana Nováková, Filmdekor s.r.o.
Accompanying programme: Oldřich Bystřícký, Department of Education, Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art
Special thanks to: Radomíra Sedláková, Tomáš Pospiszyl