Kids Riot as a Surrealist Reflection of Today’s Society

Permanent Transformation @ Fotograf Gallery, until 17th of December

Rafani, the Czech multimedia art-group, founded in 2000, is mostly known for their provocative social projects. One of their most infamous projects was in 2000, when they painted the entire John Lennon Wall green, and then painted the single word “Laska” (Love) on it.

After a too long period of silence, Rafani (“Snapping Dogs”) have “Permanent Transformation”, their first exhibition in two years at the Fotograf Gallery, until the 17th of December.

To explore the “psyche” of contemporary society or to find out what is in our collective consciousness, these days, Rafani invited 15 children, 9 and 10-years-old students of a local elementary school to participate in a project. Rafani prepared the four-room exhibition space of Fotograf Gallery as a playground for the kids and let them paint the walls.

The kids were very happy to have so much freedom, as they were allowed to paint what they wanted and how they wanted it. “It was something between a game and a fight,” says Jiří Ptáček, the curator of the exhibition. After two hours of total euphoria in the gallery, the place became “punked up” and ready to welcome the accompanying art-works of Rafani.

While the children were having their fun, Rafani took Polaroid pictures of them. Rafani is not interested in photography itself, but rather in the different ways to deal with it. For the exhibit, they have stuck the Polaroids to the walls around the gallery, to let them complete the chaotic atmosphere of the rooms.

The artists specifically wanted children of the ages from 9 to 10, because they needed their spontaneity. In their opinion, by the age of 14-15, teenagers already know what is considered “beautiful” by society, as they were most probably taught to paint in a certain way. Plus, according to Ptáček, they can be too shy to express their feelings or be scared of public opinion.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is “Balance of the New,” an expressive and surrealistic video by the young rap-artist Dan Kranich. This music was playing while the kids were painting the walls. The visuals can hypnotize viewers even if they don’t know Czech. 

Kranich’s rhyming lyrics (sung in Czech) are focused on promises, since we live in a world of constant promises that rarely come into being. The video emphasizes that one has to be responsible for the promises he makes. While as a political statement, the video is one of a kind.

Just as in our modern society, ruled by politicians and their promises, one has to be critical. Ptáček describes the lyrics as “surrealistic” as in every sentence the rapper gives a new promise that is contradictory to the previous one.

“Anti Humanic” and “Nike Siren” are two other videos playing in the gallery space. The first one stars Anet Antošová, also known as the Queen of Czech Twerk, as she “twerks” beside a dead pregnant woman (the model Eliška Applová). The second video depicts the testing of the emergency-system megaphones that is done every first Monday of the month at noon, across the country. The videos represent important parts of our culture-sexuality and public safety.

Rafani claims that this exhibit is the most non-sensual from everything they have done before. And this non-sensuality also reflects the society we live in today. They play with the logic and expectations that we have, pushing visitors to get out of their comfort zones.

Among their many controversial artistic projects, Rafani is also now a clothing brand. Their white T-shirts with metaphorical phrases (in Czech only) are on sale at the gallery for 240CZK. Then only two days before Christmas, on the 22nd of December, Fotograf Gallery opens a new exhibition, that is promised to be more minimalistic, but no less eccentric.

Fotograf Gallery
Školská 28
110 00 Praha 1

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