Fotograf Magazine

Václav Magid

Epimenides’ Lessons

June 27 – July 25, 2014


During the end of June when most university lecturers are happy to put aside their laptops and other tools of the trade, at least for a few weeks, Václav Magid relocated his lessons to the Fotograf Gallery. Like the Ancient Cretan philosopher Epimenides, to whom the paradoxical statement “All Cretans are liars” is attributed, Magid bases his educational approach in emphasizing his own subjectivity. In the accompanying essay, curator Jiří Ptáček bestows on him the epithets “a Czech leftist, intellectual and teacher.” Teaching represents the fundamental topos of the entire exhibition, in the interpretation of which one should also highlight the perspective of Pragmatics, which looks for meaning as it is produced in context by the speaker individually. Perhaps more than ever, Václav Magid rises to the foreground in the exhibition at Školská. Not only as an actor replaying the very role he has chosen in real life, but above all as a subject who self-critically doubts himself, aware of the limited impact of his own actions in the art scene and academia. The dominant feature of the exhibition is a pair of videos in which the artist, seen wearing a jacket, “delivers” (both videos are without sound) his lessons, facing the viewer as the implied student. In the first of these videos, he shows to the camera a triangular mirror; instead of the viewer (ourselves) it shows the reflection of the Palace of the Soviets, revealed in a languorous tracking shot from its foundations to its summit, crowned with the statue of Lenin. In the opposite direction, there “falls” from Magid’s lips a series of figures of famous thinkers. The eight short lectures featured in the second video show Magid testing the limits between academic detachment and the authenticity of living practice. Just as with Epimenides, one may wonder whether these lessons would have quite the same effect if delivered by someone else.

Jan Zálešák