Karel Miler’s Apartment Exhibition (Bytová výstava Karla Milera)
After 1968, resignation from public involvement and withdrawal into one’s private life was a strategy broadly used in Czech society and one of the accompanying phenomena of “normalization.” In the 1970s and 80s, apartment exhibitions were an integral part of the multi-layered unofficial gallery scene. Karel Miler’s exhibition was part of a series of shows by Czech artists held in Petr Rezek’s (1946) apartment in 1977−78. Its uniqueness lies in making performance included in the exhibition context of traditional fine arts, but also in that photographs of its installation have been preserved. In the 1970s the importance of documentation of performances was just being realized in line with the development of conceptual art, and Miller’s exhibition is one of the early examples, when it was exhibited in Czechoslovakia. He presented at this event a collected? documentation of his key body-art performances. This was essentially the first and, as of yet, last solo retrospective of the artist. Almost all of the artist’s works were displayed on the walls of Rezek’s apartment. Shortly after this event, Miler, like his fellow performance artists, Petr Štembera and Jan Mlčoch, ceased working with performance art. Several photographs preserved in the artist’s archive attest to the atmosphere and form of this extraordinary exhibition. They capture the modestly furnished room with slightly enlarged black-and-white photographs mounted on the walls at regular intervals. Each of them is provided with a typed caption on neatly cut paper. The seriousness of the gallery-style installation and the exhibition concept sharply contrasts with the ordinariness and intimacy of the apartment. The exhibition lasted fourteen days and, according to Miler’s recollections, did not have an official opening. Only a few close friends saw it.
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Date: 28 November ‒ 12 December 1977
Participant: Karel Miler (1940)
Location: Apartment of Petr Rezek, Prague