About Project

Project mapping the contemporary independent gallery scene

Curator: Lenka Sýkorová

What has been the independent gallery scene in the Czech Republic like during the last two decades? The project mapping Czech independent galleries tries to give an answer to this question. During the last ten years the vogue of founding nonprofit and alternative galleries at unexpected locations spread all around our country. Thus galleries appeared at the premises of old gas station, at ancient mining site Mayrau at Vinařice near Kladno, in an exhibition stand at Flora Olomouc exhibition grounds or in an abandoned showcase in a functionalist apartment house in Prague. All these galleries are associated by the idea of representing young contemporary visual art without any restrictions from its supporters. Financial granting is thus organized by the curators, in this case by the artist themselves, so that their gallery production activities could be perceived as their actual creative work. All artists involved struggle to create their own communication platform that would eradicate the influence of official mechanisms of rigid state supported gallery institutions, which communicates mostly with already established artists. The independent galleries thus offer space for the youngest generation of students or fresh art colleges’ graduates. Their importance is based on the fact they provide the upcoming generation of visual artists with the opportunity to try the work in gallery space, plus they offer the ensuing confrontation with well established young authors. 

The project Czech action galleries is based on interaction with 15 chosen Czech independent galleries which were sent a questionnary at the beginning of summer 2009. The 9 filled-in forms we obtained in total were, together with basic facts about the galleries, exhibited at Altán Klamovka gallery in Prague. This would allow certain critical evaluation of present situation within young independent gallery scene and mutually appreciate the meaning and importance of the network of contemporary non-commercial visual art, which is loosely linked to independent galleries. An interesting outcome of the whole project shows how enclosed and wrapped up remains the Czech visual scene and that in the exhibition program of addressed galleries we encounter repeatedly the names of the same well-established young artists. Significant contribution of independent galleries is thus the parallel introduction of less known authors, usually those studying at local art college in respective gallery region. The mere existence of these galleries provides an evidence of contemporary creative liberty.
On the closing day, September 29th 2009, the discussion was held in the nearby Club Klamovka „Role of curator in contemporary art: Does contemporary art exist without curator - theoretician?,“ which could enrich the current discourse about presentation of contemporary visual art.

Email I‘ve send to galleries:


I’m trying to monitor contemporary Czech independent gallery scene between 1990 and 2009. I focus on nonprofit galleries which support contemporary artist without permanent intervention of a curator - an art theoretician. Galleries led by the artists themselves.

I have chosen 15 galleries in the Czech Republic to where I send my questionnaire, even to some galleries that are already closed. List of galleries /Gallery Potraviny, Brno, Matyáš Chochola; Gas station at Slaný, Ondřej Horák and Monika Sybolová; m.odla, Prague, Daniela Deutelbaumová and Jaro Dufek; AM180, Prague, Jakub and Anežka Hošek, Štěpán Bolf; etc. galerie, Prague, Jiří Franta, Jiří Skála, Markéta Vinglerová; 36, Olomouc, Lenka Vítková; Entrance, Prague, Tereza Velíková and Tereza Severová; Eskort, Brno, Jana Kalinová; Parallel, Prague, Jana Kalinová and Aneta Soukupová; 35m2, Prague, Petra Steinerová and Michal Pěchouček; 761, Ostrava, Petr Pavlán; Galerry Petrohrad, Plzeň, Tomáš Moravec and Matěj Al-Ali; galerry NF, Ústí nad Labem, Luděk Prošek and Eva Mráziková; galerry Půda, Jihlava, Lucie Berková, Denisa Krausová, Lukáš Veverka and Michal Tlusták; galerry Mayrau, Kladno, Dagmar Šubrtová/.

With this email I would like to ask you to fill in a small questionnary - answer the four questions.

Please, fill out the form for your gallery:

1. Are you trying to eliminate the curatorial aspect in your gallery?
2. What is the concept of your gallery like?
3. Do you know about any contemporary art gallery abroad with a similar concept, which is as well run by the artists and whose activity remains in the non-profit sector? Would you give me its website and email address, please? Choose one gallery only.
4. Are you willing to participate in a small conference held in October 2009 on the subject: Role of curator in contemporary Czech fine art?
Your answers will be exhibited at Altán Klamovka gallery in Prague together with the facts about your gallery. Apart of that we are creating a website for the project www.actiongalleries.info

Date of the upcoming exhibition:

Czech action galleries
project mapping the contemporary independent gallery scene
opening: 09-29-2009 at 6 P.M.
lasting till 11-01-2009
where: Altán Klamovka in Prague

Each gallery is asked to choose one foreign gallery of similar production. The chosen gallery will be consequently sent the questionnaire. I’m planning a future exhibition which will cover all the galleries - 15 in Czech and 15 abroad - and connect the galleries in one exhibition on common theme where all the galleries would participate, the outcome would be mainly the interactive website that would allow visitors of one gallery to connect with other galleries involved in the project.

Thank you for answering the questions.

Lenka Sýkorová
Curator of Altán Klamovka gallery, Prague.

The Action Galleries Project was initially based on interaction with artists-curators from 15 Czech independent galleries. These artists were sent a questionnaire in summer 2008. Altogether 9 filled out questionnaires came back, these formed, together with basic facts about the project, part of an exhibition at Altán Klamovka Gallery in September 2008, than in April 2010 in Ilona Németh’s atelier at Intermedia and Multimedia department of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design and at Exhibition space Grösslingova 49 Gallery in Bratislava. Simultaneously was held the exhibition of artists-curators at Altán Klamovka Gallery and lectures about the project in Brno, Ústí nad Labem and Bratislava. Number of galleries on the website actiongalleries.info is gradually increasing. Remarks upon the fact that part of galleries involved are financially supported by grants, which do not comply with original concept of independence, should be seen in the perspective of research where the non-profit nature of the project is what matters. Non-profit area is interlinked with civic associations or actual people connected with grant politics, which itself doesn’t interfere with gallery projects providing them only with financial support. I am seeking, as a matter of priority, for the phenomenon of cultural enthusiasm. Many artists-curators are engaged voluntaries in the field of contemporary visual art trend promotion. The independent gallery structure in our country at the same time often stands for established galleries and forms thus substantial platform for progressive visual art. Further interest of our research forms the site-specific art. Many projects are significant because of their intention that relies since the beginning on transitive nature of art works in space primarily non-designated for exhibiting. Other new phenomenon presents the concept of “non-stop” galleries that are founded in old show-cases or window-cases. These galleries reduce production costs connected with gallery custodians, attack the public space and help to promote contemporary art in unconventional context. They could be labeled with a new term “street-art” galleries, first used by curatorial team of “UKG - ukradená galerie” (UKG - The Stolen Gallery). 

The exhibition „Konečně spolu“ (Together at Last), created for Emil Filla Gallery and Gallery Armaturka in Ústí nad Labem, is linked to subject of previous exhibitions at Altán Klamovka Gallery in Prague or to lectures on Czech contemporary independent gallery scene connected with Action gallery project. Present exhibition “Konečně spolu” introduces artists who, as part of their creative work, produce also exhibition spaces. By doing this they take an active part in contemporary visual scene. The choice of exhibiting artists was thus influenced by the fact, whether they are at the same time active as curators. Open space of Emil Filla Gallery has been divided into several sections and the gallery representatives, being the exhibiting artists themselves, were allowed to complete their sections, with respect to their curatorial aims, with presentation of two other artists. The exhibiting artists were introduces one year in advance and remained in touch mainly during the exhibition preparation in a form of workshop that was held one week before exhibition opening. The name of the exhibition comes from a Czech phrase “together, at last” and should be taken as a hyperbole. Active young artists-curators, outside the scope of this exhibition, are competing with each other. The mere placing of the exhibition, showing the young artists in an established gallery space of Emil Filla Gallery, adds to the irony of the title. For many artists exhibiting in such an “established” gallery forms a sort of artistic aim. The exhibition “Konečně spolu” presents actual response of the artists on the theme of participation, site-specific art and activism within the frame of gallery scene, both in our country and abroad. The exhibition is accompanied by a documentary part of Action Galleries Project situated in Armaturka Gallery. Catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be printed till the end of 2011. 

Author of Action Galleries Project: Lenka Sýkorová
Graphic design of the website: Jana Hradcová 
Graphic design of exhibition panels and printed materials for the exhibition czech action galleries : Karel Míšek
Graphic design of printed materials for other exhibitions and lectures: Jakub Štěpánek
Redaction system of the website: Pavel Pražák
Graphic design printed materials for the exhibition with title Konečně spolu: Jiří Toman
Staging and postproduction of Konečně spolu document: Antonín Jirát
Cooperation in the production of Konečně spolu Exhibition: Tereza Nováková a Romana Veselá
Co-Curators of Konečně spolu Exhibition:  Viktor Čech a Markéta Kubačáková