The Grief of Misfit Cathedrals
12/10 2023—19/1 2024
Curator: Iva Polanecká (Kunsthalle Praha, Aw! Lab)
The Grief of Misfit Cathedrals is an audiovisual artwork exploring the phenomenon of abandoned industrial objects, which, having lost their original function, become solitary presences in urban space.
Their monumental concrete skeletons dominate the surrounding landscape, resembling ancient sacral architecture in their scale and proportions. Meanwhile, their emptiness mercilessly reflects the flow of time and the impact of varied socio-economic forces and influences, inscribed into their present state.
The melancholic atmosphere evoked by the film’s immersive format and augmented by its spatialized multi-channel sound design draws inspiration from the Japanese concept of “mono no aware”, which centres on coming to terms with transience and finding beauty in death and impermanence. A similar emotional charge permeates the art of European romanticism, with scenes often set against a backdrop of classical and medieval ruins.
Lunchmeat Studio’s linear, experimental project is based on precise 3D scans of places that exist in separation from the regular rhythms of urban life. Their raw yet fragile beauty thus becomes preserved despite the surrounding entropy.
The resulting audiovisual installation poses questions related to themes such as the memory of place, the aesthetic value of decay, and the current transformations of the cultural landscape.
© Vojtěch Veškrna
“Aw! Lab is a free and safe space, kind of a laboratory, which allows us to experiment with new art forms and explore their potential in terms of exhibiting and carving out a space in the art world. That’s why I contacted Jakub Pešek and Lunchmeat Studio, which he is part of, as their projects tend to have a large overlap with fine art, as well as with contemporary music and audiovisual experiments. I wanted to collaborate with them and create a meaningful project that will make good use of Kunsthalle Praha’s gallery space and remain on show for a longer period of time,” explains exhibition curator Iva Polanecká, who characterizes the installation as a transcendental, musical-visual experience.
Lunchmeat Studio is an independent artist collective focusing on new technologies in art. For the past fourteen years, they have also been organizing the acclaimed Lunchmeat Festival. Their work often uncovers and explores unique spaces that are overlooked by society but can still enchant us with their genius loci.
“The topic developed under our hands, and we gradually homed in on the essence of the individual spaces, their stories, and their past, current, and possible future relations with the society that surrounds them. We don’t want viewers to understand the exhibition as showing the ruins of post-industrial buildings. Instead, we would like them to really think about what they find beautiful, what deserves to be preserved, and to what extent it is necessary to renovate the remains of something that humans have already once created and that has subsequently, within a century, become a ruin of sorts,” elaborates Lunchmeat Studio artist Jakub Pešek, the director of the installation. His description spotlights a key element of the exhibition—the Japanese principle of mono no aware.
This concept promotes finding beauty in things that are not necessarily appealing—it suffices that they exist and confront people with the power of the present moment and the sadness of its transience.
© Nikola Schnitzerová
“Our work is situated in a temporality that viewers might not fully understand. Rather than in a specific time, it unfolds in a sort of timelessness, in which we create an illusion that should inspire people to think about what they’ve just seen and why it speaks to them,” stresses Pešek, adding that the extensive 3D scanning of the selected buildings—these “pariahs of society”, as he calls them—was an experiment in itself. The scans were created via photogrammetry, a modern technology which uses photographs to collect data about physical objects and environments. Lunchmeat Studio spent several months rigorously mapping selected industrial buildings in Prague and Kladno. The final model, which viewers explore during screenings, is a synthesis of these dilapidating yet now also carefully documented—and thus preserved and archived—objects.
An immersive audiovisual environment in Gallery 3, dedicated to experimental projects and digital art. Space, time, light, and sound represent the fundamental elements shaping the laboratory’s space. Through the Aw! Lab programme, Kunsthalle Praha seeks to showcase diverse types of visual and sonic structures and simultaneously explore interdisciplinary approaches to technology via artistic interventions addressing contemporary issues.
Kunsthalle Praha & Signal Festival are continuing to build on their successful first collaboration in 2022. This inaugural Aw! Lab project took the form of an exhibition of young digital artists, titled Invisible Forces.