"They named a brandy after Napoleon, they made a herring out of Bismarck,and Hitler is going to end up as a piece of cheese."



Svankmajer: Kunstkamera, CZ 2022, R: Jan Svankmajer, 53 Min, No Dialogue, Berliner Erstaufführung

The idea of Rudolf’s kunstkamera has always fascinated me. Not so much the real art treasures contained in the emperor’s collection, but the sometimes even decaying objects and curiosities that formed an integral part of it. After all, Rudolf II was not an art historian but a man of feverish imagination, and what is more an emperor and at liberty to follow his own fancies, not just “aesthetic value”.

Unlike “high” art, these curious objects (whether creations of nature or made by human hand) do not provoke a primarily aesthetic feeling, but make a direct assault on our unconscious, erigate it. Their unmediated, non-aesthetic effect has affinities with the magical functions of the creations of natural peoples or the products of spirit mediums or madmen.

The Wunderkabinet I am trying to install at the chateau of Horní Staňkov is conceived in terms of this circle of selection: the art of natural peoples (Africa), Art Brut (above all the work of mediums), the Arcimboldian principle, alchemy, the products of nature. The connecting links are to be magic and surrealism.

Jan Švankmajer


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