Discussion about Tranzitdisplay with Zbyněk Baladrán and Ondřej Horák
22.10.2014, Tranzitdisplay, Prague
Zbyněk Baladrán: co-curator of TD, artist
Ondřej Horák: runs educational programmes for TD, amongst other things.
- A brief history of TD, which is something that can probably be found on the
website, the important thing is what is written in their
manifesto. Also worth
mentioning is that TD is quite clear on what it’s aim are and what can be
seen there. Challenging contemporary art, primarily international (they
estimate that they show one Czech artist every two years), and somehow a
concentration on post-colonial themes, in the sense of work reacting to
radical transformations in society.
- How does a show get made? Personal contact. Ondřej is still in touch with
many of the artists they worked with for Manifesta 8, expanding on their
work and getting more involved with them, which is something that was not
possible during a large group show. For example, the current exhibtion,
Loulou Cherinet, is somebody that Ondřej worked with before.
- TD hardly ever publishes catalogues or texts explaining their exhibitions.
- Funding. TD has the fortunate position of a very stable income in the form
of a grant from Erste Foundation. This is very stable because Erste founded
Tranzit (before they merged with Display), and has been giving them yearly
grants since. This gives TD huge flexibility compared to other small
galleries, since TD’s funding in annual and not project specific, which is
the common way of grant distribution. TD is very independent from its
- TD has a stable theme, which differentiates them from “boom” galleries which
will put on shows to sustain themselves or to follow trends. They have their
- This audience is, admittedly, very small. Let’s say 30-50 people will come
to an exhibition opening, along with about 7 visitors a day gives them an
audience of 150 people. All of which probably know each other.
- However, they aim to always have something happening, unlike other galleries
that are pretty much dead after the verinissage. There is a projection space
that anybody who asks can use, a research and working space.
- That’s the only way for a gallery to exist in the 21st century. Something
has to be happening there.
- Back to the exhibits: with 45 square meters of exhibition space, they can’t
try to substitute work that should be done by public galleries. Some people
seem to expect them to do this, or even think they do as they cover themes
that are not covered elsewhere, but this can’t be the case. They are a
gallery that exhibits «difficult» art, and do not think of themselves as
having a mandate to fill a specific hole left by the state. Likewise, they
don’t claim to be the be-all end-all of post-colonial art or themes. “We are
laymen that produce shows”.
- TD is, then, for a specific type of audience. A type of audience that has
certain knowledge and understanding, if they don’t have it they won’t come
because, frankly, they would be wasting their time. This seems to some to be
elitism. They are aware of it. But that’s kind the point, not to be elitist,
but that they just happen to put on shows that not many people go to. As
above, they are not trying to be a substitute for the national gallery.