Culture in Zlín

Here, culture doesn’t play the part of theatres and museums. It is a web of relations between people, for whom this “cultural” – meaning visual or musical – experience in Komunál, bunkr or Celnice is a trigger for further activities, more precisely, getting drunk.

- Ondřej Hruška
I started something I didn’t finish. Five and a half years in a city about which I originally didn’t know a thing. So I got to know it. I decided I would. First I thought it was possible through senses boosted by the right substance, no matter who’s sitting next to me. I tried to walk, just like that or with a camera, over and over again, to seem interested and look for a shot. Maybe it was good for something and maybe I just vainly tried to persuade people that that city is more than just the route home from school. Then it was the archive. Historical photographs. Documents and the truth. Physical education in the mean time.

From a party to a party. My body managed, but morning lectures in darkened rooms were not what my head would want. Coffee and cigarettes at Pštros over the lunchbreak, then hit some beers in the evening. I never understood the habit of bitching about coffee. I didn’t find it bad. What I did find bad, though, was when I was with someone who didn’t wanna go there. I don’t belong to expensively furnished establishments. And Pštros is a place where you can sort out just about anything.

I felt best when the doorwoman was throwing me out from the scanner or the dark room at one or two in the morning, which you didn’t have to resist outside the handing-in period. After that a group of similar desper- ate souls gathered, and we went to Amér. You could bet it would be crammed there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thurs- days. The audio-visual guys were wasted, graphic designers on the bar, photographers at the table football. Among all those there would be designers, including the ones from VŠUP at that time, clothes and shoes designers, animators, design in space dudes. And some of the more relaxed marketing guys. Marinated cheese, that weird drink with the cherry and pints and pints of beer. Great atmosphere thanks to the New York panorama wallpaper and Zlín sports teams’ jerseys.

Then Dvanáctka came into the picture. Back then I did not yet understand how it was possible that a bunch of people gets together and starts doing something. And despite all the troubles they keep on going. They manage not to freak out from the budgets, all the drunk people in the night and the sober ones on the phone in the morning. For how long have they done it? Three years? Hallelujah. Only much later was I able to under- stand how the group of people who did Dvanáctka could be so tight. The closeness of people who keep on rolling, don’t stop, don’t look back – there’s nothing to look back to, ‘cause Zlín is divided into those who bitch and those who roll. When I saw what was possible, I got it. Hey, Iva!

So we mourned for Amér, Dvanáctka, for old Monako before that, a good thing we still have Forest Cementery, they should start a culture section there. Then Celnice started, along with its boss Hynek. Although he does not own a thing in there, the masterly way in which he ran the house, especially at the beginning when it was still empty, amazed me and I felt safe over there. Maybe his and Jarda’s holes were really the most cultural places I found in the city.

We’re slowly getting to Bunkr. I guess I won’t be able to avoid it. Bunkr, I mean Photogether, is a product of Eva’s in- spiration from Berlin, Pavla’s connections in Zlín and Jarda Prokop’s undying desire to do something and support others in it. So that’s how it came to be. Of course, it took me a while longer until I realized what a wonderful thing is going on and that it is a bit of a shame to organize only tedious exhitions of students’ academic creations in such a beautiful place.

Galleries and culture are drugs. I am addicted to organizing, thinking things up, it is more important for me than basic existential needs. I plunge into the preparations not minding anything else. Don’t want any more exhibitions from me please, it destroys me.

The role of booze is interesting. How to clear it up, explain it? “You can’t do it without booze” is something the hombres from the bus station who spend their nights in the ruins of the Vietnamese marketplace would say. Thus it would be I guess a bit improper to tie it to this “culture” of ours, but then it is proper. The social role – and Filip’s photos stand evidence – overpowers the original function of art. Here, culture doesn’t play the part of theatres and museums. It is a web of relations between people, for whom this “cultural” – meaning visual or musical – experience in Komunál, bunkr or Celnice is a trigger for further activities, more precisely, getting drunk. We know this as the party principle – the pretence and a clear goal – an altered state of mind. And it’s right that way. But – shouldn’t the artistic experience itself be enough to alter the mind? Is it necessary to enhance it even further? And where will our psyche get if we amplify the already strong artistic experience by even stronger consummation? Since I tried it, I know where.

At first the girls kept it at a low profile in bunkr, and that was the right thing to do. But humanity wanted more, the city lacked a place that does not close, exactly in the tradition of Amér or Dvanáctka. But we could not offer that. From time to time, maybe. But then Vojta Skácel came in. It’s absurd that in one of Filip’s photos he sits below me on the stairs at the New Esthetics exhibition opening. We only met later that night, I didn’t know him before that.

Autumn started with a Schwarzprior and Lovci lebek concert. That night I ended up at Zlín surgery with a gashed eyebrow. I opened an exhibition in Ponorka the next day. Then more crazy stuff in Olomouc, Zlín, Ústí, Prague. We prepared Vojta’s exhibition with him. We did not leave the bukr for a week, delivered a magnificent opening, took the girls to hospitals and continued what we started in the weeks that came. Concert of Please the Trees, the cream of the crop! Back then, I already quite precisely knew that that magnificent ride will have its ending. I just did not know for sure how long it will take before the beans are spilt. We managed Azbestové prázdniny (Asbestos Holidays), always pleasure to meet the guys from Bratislava, a concert of Unitra Diora and Lighting Glove with a smashed cello and the end was almost here. In January I realized I’ve been lying to everyone for four months, packed my bag and left Zlín. I let culture to take care of itself.

- Gallery attendant in retirement