Postcards from Alena to Alena

Foustková’s exhibition “Postcards from the Czech Republic” is a year-long project where the artist made a postcard every day in 2018

A schnitzel shaped like the Czech Republic. Different terms for Cocaine. A mustard stain on a paper plate. The Rorschach Test. These are just a few of the many images that you can see on the 365 postcards made by Alena Foustková and displayed at the Havelka Gallery in the center of Prague until March 6th.

Foustková’s exhibition “Postcards from the Czech Republic” is a year-long project where the artist made a postcard every day in 2018, with observations and comments about the socio-political situation in the Czech Republic, one hundred years after independent Czechoslovakia was founded at the end of World War I.

Foustková sent 365 postcards to herself, one for each day of the year and with each one carrying a different remark about the Czech Republic or the Czechs as a nation. With her project, Foustková says she wanted to record the everyday atmosphere in the country and compare the democratic ideals and values that mattered when the country was founded and led by President Masaryk, with the reality of these ideas in 2018.

The inspiration behind each postcard came from the daily news, either from the Czech news outlets, social media or the author’s own daily experiences. Many of them bring up the long-standing issues of the contemporary Czech society, such as the rise of nationalism, xenophobia or the Czech’s stereotypical grumpiness.

“I would say that people realize that this is what we are,” Foustková says when asked about how Czechs have reacted to her exhibit. “I wanted people to think, not to get frustrated.”

The most striking thing about “Postcards from the Czech Republic” is its size. The exhibition consists of one room which is the size of an average bedroom and fits approximately five people. However, it creates just as big of an expression as a large exhibition. Postcards are attached to long strings hanging from the ceiling, filling the room and surrounding the visitors with Foustkova’s social commentaries and captivating visuals.

Some of the postcards make you laugh, some of them make you think, some of them make you question, and some of them simply impress you with their fascinating visual details. One thing is sure. You can spend a long time in that one room filled with postcards.

With “Postcards from the Czech Republic” Foustková continues to explore her deep interest in social issues, as in her previous exhibitions, such as Czechia to Czechs from 2017, which brought up the topic of the Czech’s newest name for their nation and Czech xenophobia or Dictionary from 2015, which dealt with concepts of tolerance and intolerance, both made in a participatory way, similarly to “Postcards” by letting the audience take an active part in the exhibitions.

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