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How can you be authentic when you live in a time and space that has collapsed and resembles a launched pool with running ghosts? Expressing the frustration and minds of the Eastern bloc was actually useless because it was ubiquitous and mundane. Everything we knew and that came from here was perceived as deficit or negative.


In one scene of Up in the Air (directed by Jason Reitman , 2009), George Clooney and his girlfriend and colleague compete at an IT conference party at a luxury hotel in Miami. This is an episode lasting only a moment; a few cuts, a few sentences, snippets of music, karaoke, night rain. And yet we feel like we know everything tonight in Miami. I imagine the same scene in a Czech film. Lots of talk, of course stories and anecdotes, a lot of drinking, the characters comment on what they are doing and experiencing, but in the end it seems to us that we don't really understand anything. Everything is different and no one understands anything. The story is told here perhaps only to make the whole mess, reveal our misunderstanding, inner uncertainty and emptiness. Yes, it's a caricature, but I remind it of the obvious difference between the two ways of telling. We set up the night with Clooney from our own experiences with parties, drinking and relationships. This way of telling depends on our imagination, we co-create it and is largely our story (and at the same time it's a clever strategy to get us involved). He communicates with us. On the other hand, such Jiří Macháček, together with the screenwriter and the director, almost kills us by telling and explaining; formulating the meaning of what we are just seeing. As if our fantasies and experiences were something that would only jeopardize their work.

Ever since I first saw a Cola-Cola can or a Sony cassette in the 1980s, it was suddenly clear to me as a child that I was living on the wrong side of the globe. No more information was needed. So different, exciting, powerful and unequivocal was the encounter with Western visuality. And at the same time so incomprehensible, cold and useless. (Who today remembers in the East of the then prevailing, and also properly indoctrinated, sense of educational and cultural superiority over Western superficiality and consumerism?) Special subjects that are evidently arousing desire, but at the same time are very distant. There is one term for such an ambivalent product; fetish. Much has changed in the more than twenty years, and the design and commercial visuals are becoming more sophisticated and at the same time more infantile (which is not out of the question). Many of the earlier distances have dissolved into kitsch and liking, but the essence persists. The real thing is the West and the West is design. Design that people use, consume and enjoy.

Before I finally come to contemporary design, still a memory of the nineties. As the domestic music scene changed after the fall of communism, a wave of authentic music was expected along with the opening of safes, which largely came true and unexpected. Today we will not remember most of them, but after the archives and postponed debuts came projects with English names (eg the still existing Ecstasy of Saint Theresa), which not only were based on Western models, but they directly became them. Their production was not an interpretation or a reaction, it was an identification. In a sense, the whole society behaved in this way, imitating the Western lifestyle and displacing its own past and experience. And so English-sung songs were created, expressing the sadness of life in the alienated megapolis (somewhere in the rehearsal room in an apartment building, where all the tenants knew each other by name and saw each other up to bed). It wasn't just a desire to be so wonderfully sad . How can you be authentic when you live in a time and space that has collapsed and resembles a launched pool with running ghosts? Expressing the frustration and minds of the Eastern bloc was actually useless because it was ubiquitous and mundane. Everything we knew and that came from here was seen as deficit or negative (then your very statement, or its absence, is understandable. You have no story, you come from nowhere.) Absolute identification with  the image of the West was an expression of the desire to simply be, to exist in today's world and culture. So in the West and the West is design. Just as we still go to shopping malls rather than consume , play consumption and enjoy the Western lifestyle (for which we are also willing to pay extra), so the designers of the former Eastern bloc play their game of design. And it's a strange game, where the originality is the meticulous copying of trends and the goal is to merge with the dominant production. However, it is not surprising that everything else is invisible to the Western market (even theorists and curators).

The success story of our (graphic) designers in the world is in many ways reminiscent of Kateřina Winterová from EOST. They are usually incredibly sensitive to trends that they can masterfully master and bring to perfection, in which they even surpass their role models. At the same time, however, they are strangely transparent and, although undoubtedly at the forefront of their field, they are interchangeable. They produce beautiful, highly aestheticized products and visuals, but they bring nothing extra , or cruelly speaking, they bring nothing at all. The design stars of the East proceed similarly to Han van Meegeren, who imitated and developed the work of Jan Vermeer and, in a sense, was a more perfect Vermeer than Vermeer himself. Let's understand, this is not a judgment, the design is primarily a redesign , a constant reworking of previous solutions. But there is something unique about their approach, as if they thematized the visuality itself and did not solve specific tasks. They love design as such, communication and function are almost an excuse for them. They also found their place thanks to identification, they do not want to push the boundaries or experiment. They come from a culture where we prefer to double-wrap a beautiful book in a newspaper so as not to hurt it, and enter a world that consumes sexy paperbacks that enchant us, but after reading we throw them behind our heads or lend them to friends forever. And they still remember what it's like to look at a can of Coke from the wrong side of the globe.

A2 , 2012

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