Antonín Jirát © 2017
2016, object - polystyrene, blue-back print, H5 x W3,5 x 1,6 m, ProLuka Gallery
curator: Jen Kratochvil
EXT CAVE - NEW ROCK
Moonwatcher comes face to face with the New Rock when he leads
the tribe down to the river in the first light of morning. He
had almost forgotten the terror of the night, because nothing
had happened after that initial noise, so he does not even
associate this strange thing with danger or with fear. There
is nothing in the least alarming about it.
It is a cube about fifteen feet on a side, and it is made of
some completely transparent material; indeed, it is not easy
to see except when the light of the sun glints on its edges.
There are no natural objects to which Moonwatcher can
compare this apparition. Though he is wisely cautious of most
new things, he does not hesitate to walk up to it. As nothing
happens, he puts out his hand, and feels a warm, hard surface.
After several minutes of intense thought, he arrives at a
It is a rock, of course, and it must have grown during the
night. There are many plants that do this - white, pulpy
things shaped like pebbles, that seem to shoot up in the hours
of darkness. It is true that they are small and round, whereas
this is large and square;
but greater and later philosophers than Moonwatcher would be
prepared to overlook equally striking exceptions to their
The earliest technological moment of the human race; the
humanoid picks up the bone from the ground to be his first
tool – to be his first weapon – only to throw it up to the
heavens in a sign of triumph.
The material itself does not matter; bone, branch; transparent
cold metal surface, polystyrene, heat, a touch of something
completely unknown and at the same time instantly familiar.
The conflict of consciousness.
The observer of the moon is the first of people to turn their
gaze to heavens, to the undiscovered and the new horizons.
The keystone, transmitting the pressure of the vaulted ribs,
keeping up the static equilibrium of the curve. The keystone
effect, also known as the tombstone effect, correction of the
image projection that is not right–angular, correction of the
angle distortion. They keystone, the basic element of the
illusion of the coherent society structure.
The air transport of the future is suspiciously stabilized
since the ‘70s. Concord is a dream of the past to which we
persistently return, yet cannot achieve. With the fervour of
the boarding controls after 9/11 everything got a little
complicated. Watching films from the ‘50s and ‘60s, where
people drive to their planes by car is now like watching yet
another old sci-fi. EasyJet and other low-budget airlines have
simplified it for us financially and we were only glad to give
up our comfort.
In the years (and in the flights) to come, we will go even
further with plans for vertical seating and doing away with
the possibility of having carry-on luggage on board - the one
that would fit all the necessities for a short trip. After
all, for those kinds of flights you should only need your
passport, phone with boarding pass and your laptop. There is
no space to waste.
After all, the Czech art scene is still a bit isolated. But
even ‘we’ are slowly getting into a jet-set mode. Curators’
trips from one side of the world to the other in search of the
‘new’ artists, the ones we missed in magazines and endless eflux
newsletters. Artists’ trips to residencies and
exhibitions, wherever possible. Whether to the edge of Prague,
to Brno or to Amsterdam is irrelevant.
The Monolith, a crystal cube in the original Clarke and
Kubrick’s scenario, allowed our ancestors to understand and
use the resources from their natural surroundings. Antonin
Jirát’s Monolith momentarily opens a window to our utopias –
“it’s only a plane that landed in Vršovice.” A fragment of an
aircraft, a fragment of visions and ideas, expected,
unfulfilled, planned, fragile. A wedge made of material
susceptible to climatic conditions, accessible and offering
itself to the public; a running time of gradual entropy. We
will no longer read the unknown object as a new rock, grown
overnight in a vacant lot. At the first glance it looks like
an intervention in the public space, if you know anything
about the context of local exhibition activities - or, while
riding by in the tram, you just consider it a peculiarly
placed billboard. It takes a little faith and imagination, an
innocent gaze of a prehistoric man (or an informed
contemporary art viewer, a special closeness) to attune to its
role. Would the plane in Vršovice inspire to throw ‘bones’ up
to the heavens? Would Jirát offer us an opportunity to
reconsider our jet-set mode? Or our expanding
internationalization? Or will you book a flight at once - to
the city with an exhibition that you read about yesterday?
unsurely in front of his band.
Though he is a veteran of numerous combats at the water's
edge, One-Ear has never been attacked by an enemy who had not
first displayed his fighting rage; and he had never before
been attacked with a weapon. One-Ear, merely looks up at the
raised club until the heavey thigh bone of an antelope brings
down around him.
The Others stare in wonder at Moonwatcher's power.
Moonwatcher surveys the scene. Now he was master of the world,
and he was not sure what to do next. But he would think of