Virtuosity as a disservice to the interpretation of art. Art celebrates its 1,000,060th birthday

30. leden 2023

Czech Radio Vltava joined the rest of Europe to celebrate Art's brithday on 17 January. The Prague celebration was held in the Punctum Club and featured a number of special performances - that is, gifts to art - by alternative musicians. 

Dramaturges Miroslav Tóth and Ladislav Železný designed the evening programme for the celebration of Art’s birthday at the Punctum Club on 17 January, 2023. They based their conceptual design on a thought recently discovered in a more than a thousand-year-old treatise “On the harmful impact of virtuosity to interpreting a work of art” (A virtuozitás káros hatásáról a műalkotás értelmezésére, dated 582 AD) by Ankuej Anlochen Jugurus Kajd Tudun, an Avar master of art. Miroslav Tóth further explains the dramaturgical intention:

Master Kajd Tadun sheds some light on the symbolism based on the sign of a single finger as opposed to the transition towards using two fingers when interpreting a work of art. To explain his view, he shows how thinking radically about art changed just because people switched from using one finger to using two. Kajd Tudun says that in the time when mankind created art with one finger, they had to reduce thinking of what we call inevitable. It meant that the work was entrusted in the hands of a few individuals. Whereas the sign of using two fingers refers to present days. Two fingers stand for an ornament. It is about movement. An accelerated and abbreviated rendering of the same information in a work of art previously done by one finger. Kajd Tudun claims that what is called inevitable (while using one finger) becomes so called harmful (while using two fingers).

The tradition to celebrate Art’s Birthday was established on 17 January 1963 by Robert Filliou, a French artist and member of the Fluxus avant-garde association. In his lecture “Whispered History of Art” he claimed that the art came into being exactly 1,000,000 years ago just when a prehistoric artist dropped a sponge in a bucket filled with water. Ten years on, on 17 January 1973 he held the first public Art’s Birthday party in Neue Galerie im alten Kurhaus in Aachen. Since 1987 the celebration has gradually gained global importance and was later joined by Euroradio Ars Acustica expert group.

During the live broadcast of the birthday party, we had the opportunity to listen to various acoustic gifts that reflected on the harmful impact of virtuosity in music, ranging from Miroslav Vodrážka’s performance MEN – Manifest Emocionalismu Nyní (MEN – Manifesto of Emotionalism Now) to Sólo na černou díru (Solo to the Black Hole) by Czech conceptual musician Tomáš Vtípil, in collaboration with vocalist Jana Vondrů.

The programme also featured a gig by Filharmonická společnost Konečný Cíl Drancy (Philharmonic Ensemble Final Destination Drancy), one of the most exclusive brass bands in the Czech Republic, with hits by versatile pianist and musical experimenter Vojtěch Procházka. The Slovak duo BOH VAJEC + SKLOBETON = FORMAČKA (GOD OF EGGS + GLASS FIBER REINFORCED CONCRETE = FORMATION) attempted to deconstruct and meta-describe traditional values in folklore brass music, which one of the protagonists found in his father’s family archive. Finnish experimental guitarist, singer and interventionist butoh dancer Pasi Mäkelä slipped in the programme with free improvisation with a whiff of Japanese red sun nested in a guitar combo. The entire two-hour-long programme opened with a musical GIFT by performance artist and writer Zuzana Fuksová and master of unconventional audio situations Ladislav Mirvald, joined as Potěšení na naší straně (It’s Our Pleasure) formation exclusively for the occasion of Art’s Birthday.

Based on the theory of the harmful impact of virtuosity on interpreting a work of art, let us keep an open mind while listening to the live broadcast of Art’s Birthday Party at the Punctum Club in Prague’s Žižkov district and let us ask a question: Where are we today – living in the symbolism of one or two fingers? Listen here.

Since 2005, Czech Radio Vltava has regularly joined the conceptual celebration of Art's Birthday, where artists bring their gifts to art in the form of concerts, installations or various performances, and also, in collaboration with other European radio stations, it has put together the Euroradio Art’s Birthday – Ars Acustica special evening festival.

The event is organised in collaboration with European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Euroradio Ars Acustica group and Czech Radio R{A}DIO{CUSTICA} project with focus on contemporary acoustic art scene and progressive radiophonic forms ///

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