Just an old battered wooden door separates Prague’s rich architectural world and culture with contemporary “Rafani – Permanent Transformation” exhibition at Fotograf Gallery, which, at first, barely makes any sense.
In the “Permanent Transformation,” the Czech art collective Rafani took 15 children of ages 9-10, both girls and boys, provided them with all the necessities to recreate playground and encouraged them to paint the white walls of the space. It all started out slowly, kids had fun, but in a while they became wild, because of the freedom they were given for two hours.
“The space became a punk club for young children,” said Jiří Ptáček, curator of the exhibition. “The parts of the walls that were left untouched represent the force of people as a blinding light, while the painted parts are the metaphor for the raging vortex of the collective psyche, overstimulated emotions torn apart by the social impact.”
After the children destroyed the space, Rafani placed three monitors in two rooms of the gallery. The first, “Anti Humanic” shows Anet Antošová, a winner of a twerk contest, shaking her buttocks next to a ‘dead’ pregnant woman, the model, Eliška Applová. The second, “Nike Sirens,” is Rafani’s video of the actual emergency sirens that test the system throughout the country on every first Wednesday of the month, featuring a man who beats himself in the chest while an announcement in the case of nuclear attack or other potential disaster is on. The third, which was played to the children during their fun time, is a rap music video by Dan Kranich, “Balance of New,” with a theme of promises that someone gives, but never fulfills, yet keeps promising more.
Rafani is a group of artists, founded in 2000, whose main goal is to give all artists an open, democratic and collective structure for action within the society.
“Betrayal is a new hope,” the words on one of the t-shirts that are sold in the gallery as a merchandise, but presented as a part of the exhibition; everything one sees in there echoes the society we live in.
Everything that Rafani group creates is a public statement or a manifesto. Although the context is mainly concentrated on the Czech Republic, their projects are still relevant for a larger audience and can be understood within other cultures and artistic background.
The “Permanent Transformation” exhibition will run until December 17. On December 20, the curators of the gallery are planning to clean up and prepare the space for the next installation, an open offer for everyone to join.
Photo courtesy of Rafani by Michal Czanderle