It is said that the time of the improvisational specialist has passed. Today it is necessary and common for artists to work in multiple fields, collaborating across disciplinal, political and cultural boundaries. Live performance, installation, site-specific work, intervention in the public space and composition – every means of expression and every possible framework is constantly re-considered. To start from scratch and improvise, or to rely on algorithms: rather than seeing these as competing approaches, they become simply a choice from among the many methods and tools at the disposal of contemporary art practice.
In 2016, the vs. Interpretation festival broadens its scope to highlight the state of these arts with a program that both reflects and challenges the actual state of improvised music and sound art. The festival’s events and its dramaturgy include several intertwined threads, which are spread across several venues, mostly located in Prague-7 Holešovice. Studio Alta forms the central venue, but festival goers can visit a selection of special sound and movement performances taking place in a range of spaces. For example, events take place at Veletržní palác of the National Gallery, the former building of the Prague Electric Company at Vltavská, the Alfred ve Dvoře theater, and in the old Bubeneč waste water treatment plant. In addition, one can take in an audiovisual hi-tech performance at the Intermedia Institute (IIM) of the Czech Technical University, as well as kinetic and sound installations at the recently opened venue at the Center for Contemporary Art.
In carrying on its central goal, the vs. Interpretation festival fosters and showcases collaborations between established foreign and local art communities, including work that brings them together with artists from the Czech and Slovak scenes.
Visitors can also attend a number of special events, including the premiere of a new work created on site by Christof Kurzmann in collaboration with an expanded international line-up of the Prague Improvisation Orchestra, as well as a new work by the artists Julyen Hamilton, Andrea Parkins and Ute Wassermann, created together with a group of Czech and Slovak dancers.
In celebration of the expansion of contemporary art beyond the usual borders of the West, the festival is excited to present the principal pioneering free-improvisational musicians of the Middle East, all from Lebanon: Christine Abdelnour, Mazen Kerbaj, Sharif Sehnaoui, and Raed Yassin. Kerbaj, in addition to his musicianship, is also an established visual artist and author, and presents his drawings in an exhibition as part of the festival. In addition, Yassin and Paed Conca, from Switzerland, present their project Praed+, an ambitious collaboration with the Czech musicians Marcel Bárta, Jan Jirucha and Pavel Zlámal.
The festival also offers insight into the research labs of transverse arts, new technologies and concepts, and alternative crafts. A collaborative creative workshop takes place with the group Radio Mobile, who work in improvised music, circuit bending, radio art and mini FM radio. Another workshop at IIM offers an introduction to Scott Drave’s prototype 3D audiovisual software used by Martha Mooke in collaboration with coder and sound engineer Tommy Martinez, which was developed in cooperation with New York’s Harvestworks art lab.
Work by Hans van Koolwijk, Christof Migone, Novi_sad, Luboš Fidler, among others, fill out the sound installation program. From an educational perspective, a series of public talks take place at HAMU, the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where Bob Ostertag, Hanna Hartman and Lê Quan Ninh share their methods of composition and improvisation, and also discuss the works they are presenting during the festival.
This second iteration of the vs. Interpretation festival offers during the course of a week a truly unique opportunity to get acquainted with diverse approaches, methods, and instruments and presentations of contemporary art practice through the works of over forty artists spread over more than thirty events. This broadly scoped program also includes activities for children and students, and many events are free to the public. Please refer to the program for more information about the festival, including locations and how to obtain tickets.
Petr Vrba, Cynthia Plachá, George Cremaschi, Miloš Vojtěchovský
Prague, April 2016
vs. Interpretation is organized by Agosto Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2013 to support social and cultural projects.
Thanks to our partners!
Studio ALTA, Alfred ve dvoře theatre, Trade Fair Palace of NG, Institut of intermedia, HAMU, Centre and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Prague, Old waste water treatment plant in Bubeneč, INI Gallery, Školská 28 Gallery, Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague, Goethe Institut, Netherlands Embassy in Prague, Slovak Institute in Prague, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Czech Radio, Radio 1, HIS voice, ArtMap, Radio Wave , Expo Hotel