[artinfo] PRAGUE BIENNALE is the one and only PRAGUE BIENNALE

Flash Art International info at praguebiennale.org
Mon May 23 19:47:39 CEST 2005



The first edition of PRAGUE BIENNALE took place in 2003. On that 
occasion we asked the Prague National Gallery to host the exhibition. 
The director of the gallery, Milan Knizak, conceded this hospitality 
reluctantly and continuously tried to hinder the event (suffice it to 
think that he forbade us the use of the photocopiers, the fax 
machines and the computers belonging to the National Gallery, thus 
compelling us to use an Internet point outside the National Gallery 
building). But the most hateful and improper gesture was denying our 
Producer/Manager, Jiri Prihoda, access to the National Gallery, for 
the completely trivial and personal reason that Prihoda had dared to 
criticize one of Knizak's very own installations during a debate. But 
the cherry on the cake was that Knizak took, for his own benefit, the 
money earned from the entrance tickets to the Biennale, a total of 
100.000 euros, with the excuse that there was only a verbal, not a 
written agreement.

For this second edition, since the very beginning we have excluded 
the possibility of working with a person who is unprofessional and 
basically unscrupulous, such as Milan Knizak, who uses the Prague 
National Gallery as his own personal feud (and where he has created, 
as if he was a great protagonist of the art scene, close to Beuys, a 
room of his own).

For those who live outside the Czech Republic and do not know Milan 
Knizak, perhaps a brief introduction is necessary. One of the latest 
Fluxus artists and certainly not one of the best, he is known to have 
been a bit of a rebel in the past, opposing local traditions and 
systems. After the fall of the Berlin wall and thanks to his many 
friends who were politicians (and not exactly progressive ones), in 
particular the President of the Republic, Klaus, he began his 
unstoppable ascension that in no time at all took him from being a 
simple professor to becoming the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts 
and immediately after the Director of the National Gallery and of all 
the museums in Prague as well as a member of the Board of Directors 
of the state television.

The Czech Republic's desertion of the international art scene

An all round man of power indeed. Power which in a short while made 
him forget his past as an arsonist and made him become a fierce and 
implacable enemy of every form of new and progressive/avant-garde 
art. He bitterly fights and boycotts all the young artists from 
Prague and only patronizes the mediocre and incapable ones. He 
becomes the paladin and supporter of the most backward Prague 
retro-garde by exhibiting it in his National Gallery and trying to 
export it abroad. Never have the artists of the Czech Republic 
received so little attention and consideration abroad as during the 
last few years due to the lack of support and encouragement from the 
National Gallery. And Milan Knizak is the only one responsible for 
the total absence of Prague and Czech art on the international art 
scene. Just when new and interesting cultural and artistic proposals 
such as those of Poland, the Slovak Republic and Hungary, were 
starting to come into the limelight, Milan Knizak was slow to support 
artists of any quality.

Consequently it would have been impossible to even consider working 
together on PRAGUE BIENNALE 2, which was conceived, promoted, 
financed, created (thanks to the enlightened sponsor Mattoni) and 
brought to success despite the continual ill-treatment and boycotting 
that Mr. Knizak subjected us to in 2003. Reluctantly and only to take 
away our ideas and possible advantages, he gave us hospitality in his 
National Gallery (sending us also the bill for the postage stamps for 
the invitations that we had printed ourselves and brought to Prague, 
as well as the electricity bill at the end of the exhibition!).

And we, being people who like to work calmly and without traumas (the 
work and stress are tiring enough without additional trauma from 
internal battles) tried to find a venue for the new edition of PRAGUE 
BIENNALE that was not the National Gallery, having to face 
substantial stress and costs that reduced our already limited budget.

But do you know what happened? Dear old Milan Knizak, who for decades 
has never done a thing, who in his National Gallery never hosted an 
exhibition of contemporary art apart from the routine ones passed on 
to him by local cultural institutes (for example recently: an 
exhibition of Chinese watercolors) as a response to our unwillingness 
to work with him anymore, suddenly decided to organize a PRAGUE 
BIENNALE of his own, knowing perfectly well that the idea behind the 
biennale and name belonged to us. But it does not end there: seeing 
his total incompetence and that of his staff, apart from wanting to 
name the exhibition PRAGUE BIENNALE, he is trying to invite those 
curators that we had invited for the first edition. The majority of 
these curators are scandalized and refuse, yet he manages to catch 
some renegades who are starved of curatorial projects.

Milan Knizak's group show will have to

change its name shortly

Despite continual requests from our lawyer and injunctions of the 
Prague Court of Justice that invite him to change the name of the 
event (our copyright on the brand does not allow someone else to 
associate the name of Prague with an international art biennale), 
confident of his backing from politicians coupled with his arrogance, 
he continues unabatedly to call a most ordinary and disassembled 
group show the "Prague International Biennale," thus wrongly inducing 
curators, artists and members of the public who think that they are 
taking part in our Prague Biennale whereas in reality they are taking 
part in a simple group show that will shortly have to change its 
name. Those who have been invited to take part in PRAGUE BIENNALE2 
are exclusively the artists and curators who received an invitation 
signed by Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova.

In the light of the hundreds of letters of explanation that we 
receive from curators and artists who have been invited by Knizak who 
thought they were going to be taking part in our Biennale, we felt it 
our duty to clarify our position with regard to this ambiguity. For 
this reason we are telling everyone that PRAGUE BIENNALE IS THE ONE 
AND ONLY PRAGUE BIENNALE and will be held from the 26th May at the 
venue of Karlin Hall (Thamova 8-14) where we shall be waiting for you 
all to see together the most grandiose and interesting exhibition in 
Central Europe. The other exhibition at the National Gallery is 
merely a group show, a caravan of artists and curators that act as 
testimony of Milan Knizak's mental confusion and his sole desire to 
bring harm to others.

Please visit the PRAGUE BIENNALE 2 website: www.praguebiennale.org

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