Once Upon A Time in Prague — Online Exhibition

“Once Upon A time in Prague” is an exhibition of videos created by SAIC students while in residence at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague during the Prague Study Trip in the Summer of 2010. The experience of living in a foreign city for six weeks and making art in an unfamiliar studio space and with limited resources was the catalyst for experimentation with video. Seminal Czech animators like Jan Švankmajer and surrealist collage artists like Jindřich Štyrský were of particular inspiration for the artists in “Once Upon A Time in Prague”, each of whom delved outside of their usual medium to create stop-motion or computer animation for the first time.

Each of the four videos in “Once Upon A Time in Prague” is a contemporary interpretation of the Czech Republic’s most celebrated myths, folklore, and legends. Jessica Camp‘s “Emet/Met,” explores the Jewish legend of The Golem; “Chemical Emblems” by Sarah Legow plays with the logic and imagery of Czech alchemy; “In Transit, On Business, On Holiday” by Jennifer Swann explores the intersections of Czech history and tourism; and “Flesh of the Fox” by Cecca Morrone, Kelsey Keaton, and Andrew Forrest Baker, explores Czech folklore through Surrealism.

Emet/Met by Jessica Camp (video, 2010, silent, 1:16)
“Emet/Met” contemplates the idea of sorcery and religious practice in relation to my own beliefs. The video draws from the Jewish legend of the “Golem”, a man-made savior created to protect Prague’s ghettos from anti-Semitic attacks. With the use of the 1920s film “Der Golem”, I doubled the video with mirrored stop motion images of the Rabbi and myself performing the creation of the “Golem” in sync. (—Jessica Camp)

Chemical Emblems by Sarah Legow (video, 2010, silent, 1:37)
“Chemical Emblems” playfully reworks images and text from “Atalanta Fugiens,” a 16th Century Czech alchemical handbook. I’m interested in creating a chain of events that mimics logic but falls apart upon any closer examination. Here, egg becomes eggman in four highly unlikely steps. (—Sarah Legow)

In Transit, On Business, On Holiday by Jennifer Swann (video, 2010, silent, 2:48)
The title “In Transit, On Business, On Holiday” comes from a Czech phrasebook that I bought shortly before my journey to Prague. Inspired by the categories of words and phrases in the book, I used cutout letters from old Communist Czech newspapers to recreate the text from the phrasebook and animate my own phrases within the video. I wanted to combine the language of travel with the scenery of Prague, as found in postcards, stamps, books, and newspapers, as a comment on the intersection of tourism and the city’s history and mythology. (—Jennifer Swann)

Flesh of the Fox by Cecca Morrone, Kelsey Keaton, and Andrew Baker, with sound by Becky Grajeda (video, 2010, sound, 5:44)
As a group of artists living and working together, we wanted to embrace not only the influences of the city but also the effect we must have on each other’s work. We were interested in exploring the rich history of Prague and its ability to combine a myriad of external influences into a very specific essence. Flesh of the Fox draws from traditional beliefs and folk stories and employs animation and live action video as a means to articulate our own interaction with the city. (—Kelsey Keaton)

For more information about SAIC’s Prague Study Trip, visit www.saicprague.com
For information about Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, visit www.avu.cz/en/.
Watch experimental video work from Czech artists at artycok.tv/lang/en-us/

A collaborative exhibition between students at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and students at Academy of Fine Arts in Prague is being held in Chicago at Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Ave, opening April 9th 2011 at 6pm.