Czech Center – a cultural hub escaping the Czech niche

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Czech Center Bucharest ticked all the boxes in the past few years and sucessfully managed to place itself on the front line of Bucharest’s cultural scene. With plenty of events and activities organized weekly, Czech Center grew steadly and became a popular cultural hub for all lovers of contemporary Czech art and not only, shaping ideas and projects exploring current societal issues that drift away from the Czech “niche”.

Summing up Czech Center’s activity can prove to be a lenghty task, but it should, nonetheless, start by mentioning the institutions’s oldest, yet most thriving project, namely Documentary Mondays. Tackling different themes throughout the years and inviting the viewers to reflect and debate in the aftermath of each screening, Documentary Mondays continues to attract numerous people up to this day. If, as a brief example, the past two seasons were marked by the motif of nature and, its opponent, urbanism, this autumn Documentary Mondays enters the ground of visual arts with a rich program consisting of movies about artists, be it painters, photographers or filmmakers, of movies about movies or about situations and realities at the crossroad of art and business. In a nutshell, the selection of documentaries is meant to inspire, to present personalities in an undiscovered light, but also to bring to the fore debates on issues concerning the world of art.

“Born” in 2016 as a means to trace social changes, turns, revolutions, transitory moments, unexplored concepts, uncharted intentions, unknown phenomena, undiscovered schemes and unprecedented theories, Future Museum, an open platform for artists located on the grounds of the Czech Center, exceeds the classical principle of the institution that strives to create its own perspective on society. Inasmuch, Future Museum brings a significant opportunity for artists from Romania or the Republic of Moldova to exhibit their work in a place which encourages versatility and complete freedom of expression and supports financially the maintenance costs. Among the artists exhibited in Future Museum, Tatiana Fiodorov, Mona Vatamanu, Florin Tudor, Ovidiu Anton, Anetta Mona Chişa and Lucia Tkáčová can be counted. The most recent exhibition, that of Anetta Mona Chișa și Lucia Tkáčová presented an installation comprising several of their recent works, linked by their connection to the body (human or animal) and how this can transform and materialize abstractions such as finance, time or mathematical codes.

A novelty both on the national stage and the European one, the project “Europium” co-organized by the Czech Center together with the Greek Foundation for Culture represented one of the Czech Center’s first steps into the theatrical world and of the most successful projects of 2017. With an introspective rhetoric and a metaphoric feeling, Europium brings to the fore a performance as never seen before, with words and dance mixing together in a raw synergy. Reflecting upon the Western civilization and the values of Europe, dance becomes the lingua franca in the communication between the performers and the public, words remaining just a prologue of the manifestation. This type of “hybrid theatre” was launched in premiere on the stage of the Odeon theatre and it seduced the public with its strong, yet subtle, message.

On the list of long-standing projects of the Czech Center, one must not oversee Soundczech, a contemporary music festival initiated by the Czech Center Bucharest that aims to familiarize the public with elements of the Czech culture and bring to the fore novelties in the music industry of the Czech Republic. Making its debut in 2012, Soundczech brought on the Romanian musical scene several famous name such as Iva Bittova or Ventolin, giving the audience a glimpse into a couple of distinctive genres that oppose, yet converge throughout the history of the Czech Republic. In 2017 Soundczech reached the 5th edition and brought along a few changes in the configuration of the festival, leaving the music halls and turning to another significant, yet sometimes overseen, outlet existent: pubs. Thus, this edition was entitled “Pub Edition” and the collaboration was done exclusively the most popular Staropramen pubs in Râmnicu Vâlcea, Craiova, Timişoara and Drobeta-Turnu Severin. The purpose of this reconfiguration was to enable an easier navigation in smaller cities in order to expose the public to a new culture and increase the visibility of the Czech Republic and its particularities.

2017 was not only the year of hip art exhibitions, documentaries and music; 2017 marked Czech Center’s presidency over the EUNIC Cluster in Romania. Established in 2008 and presently consisting of 15 members from 14 EU member states and one associated member from Turkey, EUNIC Romania is active in the field of culture and education promoting languages and multilingualism and collaborating with important stakeholders in Romania. Moreover, the cluster organized the following projects throughout 2017: European Film Festival, European Comics Festival and the European Day of the Languages. Starting at the beginning of October, EUNIC Month of Literature is currently taking place in Bucharest, Iasi, Romanian schools and online, inviting people to discover European authors and rediscover their love for reading.

Furthermore, Czech Center Bucharest encourages the promotion of the Czech language through several language modules organized at its premises, structured as basic vehicles for understanding certain specificities more in depth and further compelling people to come and discover the Czech culture first hand. It is worth mentioning that, since it has been a recent project that had a lot of work involved in making it, the first Romanian-Czech dictionary of similar words has been released. The dictionary addresses the large audience and it’s putting forward the idea of overcoming linguistic obstacles and enhancing the bond between the Romanian and Czech cultures, which converges on more levels other than institutional.

As the year is coming to a close, Czech Center continues to search and research, discover and rediscover new ways of exposing different issues that concern people with interests of all kinds, taking over a novel sector with its pursuit to #protectpublicspace, an Instagram project that started to gain more and more ground throughout the past year, and by supporting projects and collaborating with ODD and Frontline Club.