How are modern mythologies created, who is fighting for our attention? And why bet on celery? In a new episode of the PLAN_T podcast, artist Jakub Jansa talks about his exhibition and book The Garden of Problems, which reflect on the practices of storytelling.

Over the past 7 years, artist Jakub Jansa has created an eight-part series of films and installations, which he now presents together for the first time in a comprehensive exhibition and newly published book, The Garden of Problems. The exhibition, on the first floor of the Stone Bell House, is part of the wider curatorial series Thinking Through Film, on view at the Prague City Gallery until 18 February 2024. The book is published by umprum.

The seven 7 episodes, were created gradually from 2017 under the title Club of Opportunities (Czech for Club of Opportunities). The initiating exhibition took place at Berlin Model – an artist run space gallery, where the budget is rather symbolic. Thanks to this circumstance, Jakub Jansa, at that time a recent graduate of the umprum, thanks to this circumstance bumped into the vegetable celery nearby in Prague’s Holešovice, which (not being expensive) had not been part of any well-known narrative, nor had it appeared in the history of art, and chose it as the central figure or object of the exhibition. To develop the scene, he invited the theorist Kamil Nábělek, who gave a lecture on the ontology of celery as part of the exhibition. After that, the narrative evolved organically, “together we deconstructed it and watched how the myth is created, how it is possible to navigate it,” Jansa explains.

We can learn about the deeper meanings of the individual episodes and installations from the newly published book of the same name, The Garden of Problems, which, thanks to texts by Czech artists, artists, theorists and theorists such as Michal Novotný, Julie Béna, Kamil Nábělek, Noemi Purkrábková, Jan Bělíček and others. (The book, was released on October 23, 2023 at the legendary Anthology Film Archives in New York City. And on January 25, 2024 at 6 p.m., there will be a book launch for The Garden of Problems at the Stone Bell House.)

The role of the artist in society, for example, appears as a subtext in Michal Novotny’s text, or as one of the motives behind the demise of Jans’ long-term project. “As far as the artist as genius is concerned, I feel that this is a concept from the nineties and noughties. When I was at the umprum, we never talked about how an artist should function as a person who fulfills art as a profession. That’s why I thought it was important to talk about the conditions under which an exhibition is created, how a gallery program is created, etc.-it’s not about me fulfilling my ego and creating a brilliant work for someone to admire. I found the role of “genius”, the “mission” and all the “greatness” that was associated with that mission unbelievable,” Jansa explains his starting point and adds: “I had to create the structures in which I could function myself.” Michał Novotný’s text in book reveals the strategy of how the “series” was created; this allowed Jansa to apply for grants, scholarships, etc., because part of artistic practice is to seek these resources. The fact that Jakub Jansa created a structure that he could build on helped him in this regard.

Jakub Jansa collaborated on the project with a number of other creatives and experts, including fashion designer Karolina Juříková, cinematographer Kryštof Hlůže, musician Oliver Torr, philosopher Kamil Nábělek, screenwriter Alice Krajčiříková, Fx specialist Eliška Pitráková. Jans’s team, which consists of both friends and professionals, is also behind the preparation of videos for the new exhibition of the Museum of Literature – Memorial of National Literature.

18.1.2024, 18:00 Guided tour of the exhibition The Garden of Problems with theoretician Noemi Purkrábková at the Stone Bell House

25.1.2024, 18:00 Book launch of The Garden of Problems, panel discussion with co-authors of the book at the Stone Bell House