As Youth Explosion: The New Bohemia ended a couple of weeks ago we got a few questions answered by Marie Tomanova. If you missed it you will wish you hadn’t.
“Czech Center New York and Marie Tomanova presented art from established and emerging artists, designers, performers and musicians who address, participate in, reflect, shape, and are shaped by contemporary youth culture. The exhibiting artists, using a variety of media, elucidated where youth culture has been and where it is going, and explored youth’s social, political, personal and formal contexts. With a surge of interest in youth in the art market and art world, with a growing presence on on-line media channels, YOUTH EXPLOSION: The New Bohemia brought together artists under one roof to celebrate the new bohemia!”
So you took over the building of Czech Center on Upper east Side, Manhattan. Pretty close to where big galleries such as MET and Guggenheim are located. How did it feel? Was there any specific reason for the location’s choice?
Czech Center New York’s mission is to represent Czech culture in the United States and strengthen cultural ties between these two nations. I have been following their program for a long time and when I was offered to do a show, I wanted to bring in young “Brooklyn” art which you don’t see in that institution very much. So I decided to establish that connection bridge and put together cross-cultural show based on Czech curator and emerging American/Canadian artists.
“YOUTH EXPLOSION: The New Bohemia” is your curatorial debut.What do you seek from this and what impact do you think this is going to have on you as an artist?
Curating the show was a great experience. It is a lot of work and responsibility. I never realized how much paper work, politics and diplomacy is involved in such a project among other stuff that you have to take care of. One would think that it is mainly about the art but that is not entirely true. It taught me a lesson and I realized who are the people I would enjoy to work with in the future. As an artist and curator I realized that I will always be different because I grew up in Czech Republic and was born under communist regime. My point of view is different than artists who grew up in America. I didn’t grow up facing problems like privilege or race. In communist and post-communist Czech the problems I struggled with were revolving around sexism, female equality and gender. And that is one of the reasons why I included so many female artists in this show. I was already offered to curate show for Czech Center next year and I would like to expand this project in the number of artists being shown, broaden the topics being covered and introduce more great artists.
Tell us a bit more about the exhibiting artists.
Each artist was presenting larger part of their body of work. My goal was to introduce rather fewer artists but to give them space to show more works. From my own experience I preferred shows where I could show more photographs because it allowed me to introduce my work in a more coherent way. And visitors could see different kinds of media mixed in this show, from drawings, paintings, installation, photography to sculpture and video. And at the opening night you could see performances by Go!Push Pops, Rafia and Legacy Fatale.
Taking over 3 floors of the Bohemian National Hall building means that this was something huge. Except from the exhibition, could you introduce us to all the other events that took place on the day of the opening?
When you entered the Bohemian National Hall building on the evening of Thursday July 7th, you could start by walking into the ground floor movie theatre. It is a beautiful theater with red seats and you could see short movies from several artists. We had a special program of performances on the second floor in the gallery. And the whole evening ended at the rooftop with Rafia performing and Amhara Xhosa playing music for crowd of people drinking beers and enjoying the view of Upper East Side Manhattan.
How does youth culture-including its sociopolitical and personal status-affect you?
I love that young people here are not afraid to experiment with all sorts of media and are active on many levels from performance, video, installation, painting, sculpture, or photography. And they feel free to move from one media to another. This openness to be who you are and work how you want to work inspires me.
How important have all forms of online media been for young artists in the art market these days?
Today we are very much connected to social media. It shapes our identities and it shapes our opinions. Big advantage of online platforms is that you can reach wide audience and introduce your work to lot of people almost instantly. But at the same time I struggle with censorship that certain platforms force you to apply. I am big fan of galleries. There is nothing more beautiful than a big print that you hang on a wall. That experience of “real” art object is much stronger than online picture in your feed!
Exhibiting and Performing artists:
Ethan James Green
India Salvor Menuez