The Chemical Plant Is Burning, Make a Wish

In September 2021 the artist and social worker Bára Bažantová together with the anthropologist Lenka Podroužek Polčová moved for one month into the Libuše Community Centre, based in the Janov housing estate in Litvínov. During this time Bažantová kept a diary, which then formed the background for her book Hoří chemička, něco si přej (The Chemical Plant’s Burning, Make a Wish). The book is now being published by the initiative for contemporary art tranzit.cz, which initiated the Mycelium project. In her text Bažantová recorded the everyday life of the local community, its patterned regularities and unwritten rules. Nonetheless, she did so in the knowledge that as a visitor, her insight would always be limited.

At the same time, the author allowed the text to become permeated by her own doubts and questions concerning the boundaries of the individual worlds within which she found herself, as well as the possibilities of their blending together. As a consequence, the book represents more than a mere record of an artistic project. It presents readers with an empathetic account of the ways in which we can perceive the coexistence of people with various starting points and experiences in life. Last but not least, it is also a tale of adventure. This aspect of the book is underlined by the illustrations by Michal Karvay, one of the locals from Janov. However, Karvay is not just an illustrator. To a large extent, Michal’s drawings and Bára’s text were created upon a foundation of shared experiences and a mutual dialogue, and together they have compiled a chronicle of an unusual friendship.

A series of community and cultural activities were held in Janov under the umbrella heading of Mycelium, which in addition to engaging local children also featured artists and other guests from North Bohemia and other locations. For example, a number of video and music workshops took place, as well as a concert by the Gipsy G rap collective from Ústí nad Labem and a children’s art camp. Mycelium is also continuing in 2022, and you can follow the project’s activities at https://matterof.art/cz/projekty/podhoubi-litvinov

"In derelict blocks of flats, while summoning up ghosts or watching the clouds above the Litvínov chemical plant, we come up against not only the limits of (dis)trust and the depth of ingrained prejudices, but also the power of emergent alliances and brief moments of shared joy. At such moments, all barriers are dissolved, at least for a moment, and Janov belongs to everyone. The second part of the story takes place somewhere deep within, in the realm of thought, where reality is constantly confronted with an unattainable desire for equality, and where there is an entangled mesh of questions relating to the themes of integration, cultural colonisation and forms of life inside excluded localities. The text was written during the course of attempts to create a space for the shared culture of Mycelium in the Libuše Community Centre in Janov." (Lenka Podroužek Polčová)


Česká edice
Publisher: tranzit.cz
Year: 2022
Price: 200 Kč


Czech edition
Hoří chemička, něco si přej
Author: Bára Bažantová
Editor: Hynek Trojánek
Consultant: Lenka Podroužek Polčová
Editor: Ema Hesterová
Corrections: Věra Becková
Graphic design: František Štípek
Illustrations: Michal Karvay
Publisher: tranzit.cz


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