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And for that reason…

A photo and biographic installation
5.12.19.12.
Thu 4.12. - 19:00

.. A clock has always struck me as something ridiculous, a thoroughly mendacious object, perhaps because I have always resisted the power of time out of some internal compulsion which I myself have never understood, cutting myself off from so-called current events in the hope, as I now think, said Austerlitz, that time will not pass away, has not passed away, that I can turn back after it, and when I arrive I shall find everything as it once was, or more precisely I shall find that all moments of time have co-existed simultaneously, in which case none of what history tells us would be true, past events have not yet occurred but are waiting to do so at the moment when we think of them, although that, of course, opens up the bleak prospect of everlasting misery and never-ending anguish...
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

A wooden box of old glass slides found in the vacant house of Msgr. Th. Dr. Josef Baťka's estate was the source of inspiration for the concept of this installation. Doctor Theologiae Josef Baťka, born in 1901 in Plzeň, graduated from the theological school at the Vatican, and after returning home to Bohemia, taught theology in the gymnasium in Nymburk. During the German occupation he avoided prison, and then as a consequence of the communist putsch, retired back to his family house and served as a priest at the remote parish outside Klatovy, near the Šumava mountains.

By means of a prism of a photographic works, video projection, interactive sound installation and several objects, the exhibition metaphorically presents the circumstances of two individuals, against the background of their 20th century context.

Josef Baťka, the priest, pilgrim to Jerusalem, and papal chamberlain, lived the second half of his life together with his younger sister Marie in the little town of Kolinec, in southwest Bohemia. He died in 1979 in Sušice, and Marie, who had cared for him in old age, followed a few years later. She bequeathed the house and all property to the Church. While clearing out the house several boxes with glass slides and manuscripts were found, and fortunately saved. A noteworthy body of Josef Baťka's photographic work from travel to the USA, Scandinavia and the Levant, is accompanied by a handwritten diary from the American journey. Words and images give testimony to the way of seeing and thinking of this curious man. In addition to imagery related to his religious function, his photographs are also dedicated to landscape, traveling, modern technology and society. This body of photographic work is a rather surprising, and at times strange and jolting blend in which we get a sense of the multiple facets induced or reinforced by his role, hovering between religious diplomat, tourist, artist, and anthropologist. The album reveals the trajectories of the changing times, and the character of places captured by his camera almost a century ago.

This fragment of heritage is both a very private and very eloquent document, and bears witness to the passing of time. The concept of the exhibition was also driven by the desire to evoke the process of the passing of memory, symbolized as well by the faded contours on the glass plates and the ageing sheets of paper. The images have become something like a ghostly residue of the life of a nearly forgotten man and woman. These photographic relicts provide clear evidence of a real life, but the poetic framing and the soundtrack, and almost unreal character of some of his photographs, suggest a more general interpretation, beyond the exploration of one individual's biography. And For That Reason... is an impressionistic narrative and fictive reverberance of the memory of a past era.

The core of the installation is a video projection, looping a strip of digitized black and white photographs from Baťka's albums from his studies in Italy and his journeys to the USA and Scandinavia, undertaken sometime in the beginning of the 1930s. Images of these far countries, portraits of people he met, and postcards of those he could have met, are all present in this screening. A second part of the installation is taken from the same vast collection of his images; transparent photographs are placed corresponding to the individual window frames of the gallery, resembling a camera lucida apparatus. This function makes reference to the original goal of the slides, projected by Baťka for the entertainment and education of his colleagues or students. The soundtrack is the resonance of segments from the diary of J. B. and the diaries kept over the years by Marie Baťková. She penciled them in calendars to remind her of what is necessary to do, what to buy, and how to maintain the house and the household. A quiet voice reading fragments from the diaries evokes the timelessness of the setting: still-lifes of the decaying villa, surrounded by a meager garden, like a time capsule -- the monument of a shelter. Here Josef and Marie lived out their lives, touched by the changing of the weather and seasons, and news which was penetrating from the rapidly changing world outside.

This installation is the first public presentation of the materials from the image archive of J. and M. Baťka. It is part of an ongoing collaborative series, inquiring into possible ways of reanimating and contextualizing personal documents from the last century.

Concept: Miloš Vojtěchovský, Dana Recmanová
Photographic work: Douglas Parsons. Lloyd Dunn
Video editing: Miloš Vojtěchovský, Michal Kindernay
Sound: Miloš Vojtěchovský
Interactive device and programming: Milan Guštar
Installation assistance: Jan Bartoš, Bára Kohoutová, Lívia Rószás
Special thanks to: Martina Smeykalová, Jan Virth, Anti Sodomková, and the Šmíd family
Media partner: Fotograf
Printing: Acroateliér / Acrodesign

The exhibition was realized with the cooperation of the MLOK Association.
listen to sound created for the installation
play

baťka nuns

Images 

Batka
z fotografické pozůstalosti po panu Th. Dr. Josefu Baťkovi (1)
z fotografické pozůstalosti po panu Th. Dr. Josefu Baťkovi (2)
z fotografické pozůstalosti po panu Th. Dr. Josefu Baťkovi (3)
z fotografické pozůstalosti po panu Th. Dr. Josefu Baťkovi (4)
z fotografické pozůstalosti po panu Th. Dr. Josefu Baťkovi (5)
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (1)
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (2)
josef batka
instalace
instalace zevnitř
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (3)
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (4)
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (5)
a z tohoto důvodu...pohled do instalace (2.1)
a z tohoto důvodu...vernisáž (1) úvodní slovo kurátora Miloše Vojtěchovského
a z tohoto důvodu...vernisáž (2)
a z tohoto důvodu...vernisáž (3)