A Meeting on the TJ Sparta Tennis Courts (Setkání na tenisových dvorcích TJ Sparta)
In the early 1980s, the exhibition project Meeting on TJ Sparta Tennis Courts was among the more distinct activities of the unofficial scene in Prague. The exhibition was initiated and organized by the artist Jana Budíková on tennis courts that were under construction where there was great potential for monumental exterior works and, on the premise that the aim was to “decorate the tennis courts”, the intervention was actually officially permitted. As it is clear from the invitation, the exhibition was planned as a two-week event with an opening. Budíková unofficially printed and mailed out dozens of invitations, which is probably why hundreds of people attended the opening – including members of the independent art scene and friends of those exhibiting, as well as dissidents such as Václav Havel. The police’s intervention during the opening led to the arrest of the main organizers and the destruction of the exhibition that mainly consisted of monumental objects and site-specific installations, works made from available materials, often directly on site. The most demanding exterior work was Overstack by Ivan Kafka leaning against the side of the indoor tennis court. This was a six-meter high monumental stairway made from twenty tons of packages of pressed paper that viewers could step on. Overstack was one of those few works that was not immediately removed following the police intervention. It was simply too large and “resistant”.
The collective enthusiasm and will to organize a temporary exhibition at their own expense in a non-gallery milieu, the massive interest of participants and the interruption by the police are all typical symptoms of the independent scene’s exhibition activities at that time. The search for alternative means of artistic expression in Czechoslovakia was also accompanied by a search for ways to outwit the official bureaucracy and find any possible way to exhibit.
Pavlína Morganová – Terezie Nekvindová – Dagmar Svatošová, Výstava jako médium. České umění 1957−1999, AVU, Prague 2020, pp. 592-603.
Alena Potůčková (ed.), Umění zastaveného času. Česká výtvarná scéna 1969−1985, exh. cat. České museum výtvarných umění, Prague, 1996.
Marie Klimešová, České výtvarné umění druhé poloviny 20. Století. Alternativa a underground, umění a společnost, in: Josef Alan (ed.), Alternativní kultura. Příběh české společnosti 1945−1989, Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, Prague, 2001, pp. 377−420.
Pavlína Morganová, A Walk Through Prague: Actions, Performances, Happenings, 1949−1989, VVP AVU, Prague, 2017, pp. 76−77.
Date: 10 June 1982
Curator: Jana Budíková (1946)
Participants: Jiří Beránek, Jana Budíková, Josef Hampl, Vladimír Havlík, Ivan Jelínek, Stanislav Judl, Čestmír Kafka, Ivan Kafka, Svatopluk Klimeš, Milan Kozelka, Jan Kubíček, Alena Kučerová, Jiří Lindovský, Adéla Matasová, Vladimír Merta, Pavla Michálková, Rostislav Novák, Karel Pucherna, Tomáš Ruller, Václav Stratil, Jindřich Štreit, Margita Titlová Ylovsky, Jasan Zoubek, Olbram Zoubek
Location: TJ Sparta tennis courts, Prague