Pavel Büchler - Labour in vain

28 May – 30 Aug 2010

For the first time ever in the Czech Republic, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague-Holešovice, hosts a comprehensive exhibition of the work by Pavel Büchler whose long years of artistic practice and teaching in the UK have been recently rewarded by Northern Art Prize, the second most prestigious art award in the UK. 

The exhibition is dominated by a number of key works, inspired directly or indirectly by the legacy of Franz Kafka. Two of these works make up the conceptual axis of the exhibition.

The Castle (2005-2009) from the collection of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, is based on Kafka’s novel in which the author describes a non-classifiable character of a stranger and the problem of his presence in a claustrophobic environment of a village under a castle. Kafka’s text is read by synthetic voices created by digital technology (the so-called TTS) using almost 100 megaphones patented by Marconi in 1926, which is, incidentally, the year when Kafka’s novel was published for the first time. Since 2005, this work has been realized in a number of versions and exhibited at the 9th Biennale in Istanbul, the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Athens, Kunsthalle Bern, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp and ShangArt Gallery in Shanghai, always in a different form corresponding to the historical or present function of the place or the exhibition space. The Prague installation is the largest so far and it has a new voice recording, partially in Czech.

The List / (Previous Correspondence. 2001-2009) is a long series consisting of 726 framed letters by which the author, from 2001 to 2009, responded to unsolicited advertising mail. In the first phase of the project, the senders learned that their names had been added to a list (“your name has been added to the list”). Their signatures, reproduced under the text, gradually accumulated into something that resembled an abstract painting. In the second phase, exhibited in 2003, the process was reversed and the senders were, one by one, removed from the list (“your name has been removed from the list”). Letters with this notice were sent to all original senders after the end of the exhibition. In 2003-2006 this project was expanded by the same number (242) of new senders-addressees, with all of them quoted in name in the text of the artist’s response and these letters were sent shortly before the opening of the exhibition in October 2006. In the third and the last phase, created specially for the DOX exhibition, the artists will, once again, respond to advertising mail received recently. This time, his responses will admit the aesthetic dimension of the correspondence.

A number of other works prepared for the exhibition is also inspired by Kafka, including a vast collage of Kafka’s quotations taken from the Czech translation of the essay by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, installed in one of DOX’s windows. Other works will use different means to refer to the works and personalities of modern art, literature, critique, politics, philosophy and the whole selection of works will be unified by the artist’s interest in misreading as a way to reveal accident or non-intentional poetics in familiar cultural material. The exhibition will include a series of photographic “portraits” from the late 1980s by which Büchler entered the British scene.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with many pictures and texts by Pavel Büchler, the exhibition’s curator Jaroslav Anděl and the following authors: J. J. Charlesworth, Charles Esche, Douglas Gordon, Richard Gott, Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Mihnea Mircan, Hester Reeve and Patrick van Rossem.