05/12/19 - 26/01/20
Jaroslav Fragner Gallery

Curatorial team and co-organizing institutions /

Petr Krajči / Study and Documentation Center Norbertov GHMP

Petr Vorlík, Pavel Směták / Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University of Prague

Klára Pučerová, Dan Merta / GJF

GRADA publishing house


Graphic Design/

Robert V. Novák


Architect of the Exhibition/

Jakub Fišer


The exhibition and publication “In Defiance” will present Czech architecture between 1969 and 2019 and its representatives defining spiritual and commercial totalitarianism.  That means a view of the history of fifty years of Czech architecture in terms of the moral consistency of the creators. The main themes are architectural freedom, defense of public space, unofficial structures and exceptional achievements (exhibitions, workshops, happenings, etc.). In addition to the presentation of personalities and events, there will be a focus on a particular situation of the period, historical, political and artistic context and the development of events or individual institutions and organizations and groups.

The shape of the exhibition will be based on a timeline showing individual themes and personalities or groups on three levels: for an common viewer, for an informed viewer and for those interested in detailed information.  Due to the nature of this theme, the exhibition will be based on clear graphics, explanatory comments, communicative and visually attractive originals, copies, photographs, printed materials (official and dissident) and models.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication guided tours, lectures, debates.

The basic theme - the moral consistency of the creators - will be reflected from several perspectives: depending on the type of the project (many creators have been simultaneously active on the field of moralizing activism and “spreading good” but also in controversial contracts for the totalitarian regime or controversial personalities), depending on time (many of the authors started their career as young, moralizing revolutionaries who do “everything in a different way”, but with increasing fame and responsibility, contract size and age, they have eventually moved into a standardized or predominantly commercial routine), depending on the nature of the particular work (in terms of defiance of the establishment and  only the “simple” effort to do their work well and ethically) or the anticipated responses (to what extent the phenomena are monitored and reflected by the media, or to what extent they can be “evaluated” or exploited commercially and politically by the very establishment they are defining). The curators are far from dividing the creators into “bad and good” or “right and harmful” events or performances, but they intent to show how interesting and powerful the stream of “islands of positive deviation” has been and what events (described only marginally or not at all) have been influential for the development of architecture, responded to pan-European trends (postmodernism, technology, interest in historic monument care, public space, ecology, theoretical works) and how the awareness of architects of their own influence on the form of public events and open spaces, social and pedagogical responsibilities is projected.  At the same time, we want to draw the visitors into the dialog of a possibility of adding / writing "who I miss here".


Basic time sections and themes:


1969–1992 / normalization, persecution and design bans, underground (samizdat) literature (translations of Venturi, Jencks), housing lectures, anti-demolition and sanitation activities (Těšnov, Žižkov), exhibitions and performances (Roztoky u Prahy), search for humanist forms of architecture (Urbanita, Painted Architecture, D.N.A.), attempts to achieve environmentally and energy-responsible architecture (E. Schleger, L. Liesler, J. Suchomel and Sial), magazines (Technical Magazine), 1980s groups (Středotlací, Golden Eagles), the theme of a “common” architecture (A. Šrámková, L. Lábus), Velvet Revolution, the Civic Forum movement, foundation and termination of organizations (foundation of Czech Chamber of Architecture in 1992).

1993–2019 / social liberalization, decentralization of power, emerging of free market economy, new establishment, public space devaluation, satellite construction, commercialization, rigid legislation, rising of property prices and their unavailability (creation of alternative buildings), criticism and popularization (A. Gebrian), exhibitions, lectures, publications, Prague Institute of Planning and Development, civic activities (against construction, pots / pools in Prague-Smíchov; against demolition of historical buildings or brutalist buildings, Research Centre for Industrial Heritage led by B. Fragner), participation of architects in politics, architect as a builder saving old architecture  (eg. Liberec cinema-café, Lobeč brewery, Třebešice chateau).

In addition to activities responding to a specific political and social climate, the same or similar topics repeat (delimitation against legislation, kitsch, demolition, building; academic sphere, ecology and landscape, social and political involvement; associations; technology; public space). That will prevent from perceiving the presented projects and creators in black and white, "before and after", as a history of "totalitarian" and "democratic" society.  Both periods are much more intertwined than we are able or willing to admit. The exhibition follows the discourse conducted in recent years by historians and theoreticians. This is possible thanks to a sufficient time gap between the emergence of a new state and the transformation (?) of the society.