This Friday sees the start of Kůra - a two-day festival of experimental art and music held in a 19th century brewery in Kutná Hora, east of Prague. The fest is in just its second year but will see work by some 60 artists and musicians, from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and further abroad.
“We held it for the first time last year and the idea was to make a small festival for our friends and a few others, focussing on performance art and site-specific art. The site is quite unique, an historic brewery: it’s not an empty white-walled gallery space. We wanted to have artists react to this specific site.”
The tagline for the festival is that it is about experimental art: is this art which will try to challenge viewers, to push the envelope or to forge new directions?
“The truth is I don’t like an elite or elitist approach whereby art is reserved for only a few who ‘understand it’. It is true we want to present experimental art but we want to confront it with locals and regular visitors. We want locals who came last year to have a chance to appreciate it and enjoy themselves in the vicinity of the old brewery.”
The Sedlec brewery dates back to the 19th century: are the spaces renovated, in ruins, or both? And what is the atmosphere like.
“That’s a nice question, as the mood is very nice and changing each week. The atmosphere stays the same but the site is changing from a ruin that wasn’t used for a very long time. It is being repaired by the owner Jan Chejn step-by-step and many things have already changed a lot since our first inception of the festival in the autumn. The improvements make the festival better for visitors but a lot of things have yet to be repaired and there is a bit of a punk atmosphere about it. Not all things are cleaned up and there are dirt floors in areas, so it has an interesting feeling to it.”
With the contrast between the spaces and the different nooks and crannies… tell me about the site-specific art. Is everything pre-prepared?
“Some of the installations were created specifically with the brewery in mind. The artists were able to visit befo5rehand and work specifically with the space. Others selected earlier work not created for the site but even they had to make a selection from their work, to find something that would fit in the space, tom find something suitable.”
Let’s talk about some of the artists… who are some of the people you are looking to seeing?
“I am especially looking forward to a performance art piece on Saturday called Collaboration No.11 by Jasmin Schaitl of Austria and William Costa from the United States. I am looking forward to this duo, who will be working in an area called Díra or The Hole. I am not sure exactly what their performance will entail but I know their approach is clear, clean and concentrated.”
Is there any musical style which will dominate?
“I think it will more or less everything because we don’t have any specific dramaturgy. But maybe THIS is the dramaturgy! But there will be electronic music and experimental sound work, you have Girl Therapy which is part music and body performance. There will also be punk and hardcore on the underground stage and for sure DJs during the night.”
How did you hit upon the name ‘Kůra’?
[laughs] “It has more meanings and is a bit of Czech joke: Kůra could refer to a treatment or medical treatment. It also means ‘bark’ as in the bark on a tree. So there are different meanings.”
You can look up more about festivalkura on facebook.