As an analyst, archaeologist and investigator, the French curator Pierre Bal-Blanc, in collaboration with a number of artists, has decided to explore and critically activate the legacy of the prematurely deceased American artist-anarchist Christopher D’Arcangelo.
Today, diversity is the answer to the great failure of monocultures, and the pressure for diversification is supposed to solve all our problems. We are asking, however, what about our integrity within the concept of diversity, how new kinships will form independent of gender, sex, race, species, class, party, citizenship, minorities, religions. Are new communities without fixed ideologies sustainable?
What is the relationship between the ruin and its representation, what represents it and how? How useful and harmful are representations of ruins? Does the representation multiply the ruin’s entropy or does the ruin acquire a new (and significant) integrity in the image? Through emotional identification with it, it offers the possibility of transition, of continuation.
The image of a ruin – if it is not a mere document – is an exorcism, a new construction. Does the ruin sweep all other themes into the abyss of time? The image of a smouldering ruin wishes to hang on the wall for a long time, being caught in peripheral vision while meandering along the online stream of images of the present, and to create a new identity that is difficult to simply capture. It takes many images to illuminate it.
Mourning is a shared emotional act that has brought various historical institutions and individuals opportunities to cope with loss and change, and facilitated the collective and individual transition to other temporal, geographical, and social strata. The current proposals to restore this ritual in our highly pragmatic and technologically dependent life attempt to use the formats of institutional reflection and sharing. At the time when its relocation is moving it to a permanent venue burdened with the past, PLATO raises a claim for space and time to observe this situation. The act of mourning is a farewell as well as a collective re-experience, which could also be well applied in the processes connected with the city and the stigmatizing industrial DNA of Ostrava.
We are interested in the industrial ruins of the city of Ostrava, both the post-revolutionary and the contemporary ones. Is it possible to relate the American phenomenon of ruin porn to the situation in Ostrava? This tourist zombie offshoot turns the life in city centres into entertainment industry and the residents into indigenous objects. What other ruins are produced by the present city for the well-being of its inhabitants? What is the contribution of its institutions, including cultural ones to this production? In what ruin resides the nomadic institution PLATO, which will soon settle in the brick ruin of the former municipal slaughterhouse? What will PLATO transform into and what will become of its current venue, the Bauhaus hobby centre? Its ruin has provided a generous space for contemporary art that has lately been escaping from the white cubes of galleries and entering ruins of various types, from architecture to nature – which knows perfectly how to include the ruins into itself.
Octopus Press is PLATO’s publishing house, which expands the exhibition cycle “Oh and Hah, Beauty, Ruin and Slack”.
It initiates, in direct connection with the exhibition cycle, the creation and presentation of new texts, lectures, debates, multimedia essays, reports, a chronicle, works of art and other visual material.
In addition to the online presentation, an offline platform has been developed as well, presenting selected contributions in the gallery.
May 2021 – May 2022
Conceived by: Daniela and Linda Dostálková
Editors: Daniela and Linda Dostálková, Edith Jeřábková, Marek Pokorný
Octopus Press logotype: Josse Pyl
Website: Tomáš Celizna
Production: Lenka Škutová
Between 1974–1976, Octopus Press was a legendary alternative bookstore and publishing house in Athens that hosted collective art experiments, activist manifestations, thinking and meetings. Its founders, Teos Romvos and Chara Pelekanou (the two of them were the main protagonists of the Trypa exhibition presented in PLATO Ostrava at the end of 2020), shaped the Greek underground and were among the pioneers of social ecology in the country. PLATO resumes and continues – with the permission of its founders – the activities of the Athenian publishing house, known as “a place where strange ideas originate and proliferate”.