Ivan Svoboda: Ice Age

Kostka Gallery, Meetfactory, Prague
Exhibition duration: October 11 – November 17

Curatorial text: Viktor Čech


The word pilgrimage used to have a poetic and freedom-associated flavor, be it the journeys of romantic poets and artists, in our environment e.g. Karel Hynek Mácha, or their fascination with the free, nomadic Gipsy lifestyle. At present, the word, meaning also our journey to fulfill our dreams and desires, is often being replaced by another expression, the migration. Until recently rather used in scientific, historical and sociological context, lately it has become an igniter setting to fire many of hitherto just smoldering social problems.

In his exhibition project for the Kostka Gallery, Ivan Svoboda returns to a more personal perspective of pilgrimage, a journey from somewhere, via different places, through time, space and cultural frameworks. In his video he captures a journey of a couple, taken at locations familiar to him since his childhood. A short story of two heroes told against a background of these visuals carries a more general message. We do not know where these pilgrims come from, and whether it concerns something in the past or in the present. We just follow the plot staged by the author in a strange timeless sequence where even the narrative line rather contributes to the situation buildup around the visual space of the film shots. Similar to the classical Czech movie Journey to the Beginning of Time, the heroes move outside the set of common rules of our reality. The author draws upon his older works: both visual and verbal narrative means serve him mainly as a pretext to make his image space deeper and define an existential situation. The Pilgrimage is, above all, a story of individuals, their memory and experience.

Similar to our predecessors migrating from Africa dozens of thousands of years ago, we too continue migrating, despite thinking we live within a closed and static social apparatus. Our movement among spaces, contexts and changes of both our physical and mental substance, may become, in our memory, a similar journey we have known from Zeman’s film mentioned above.