Following the completion of the 2021 Summer School - held between 19.–29.08.2021 in the village of Maříž, Czech Republic - this cumulation of words and images sets out to remind us of the delicate blessing afforded to us. We are aware that it is not possible to express everything about the experience and results of the Summer School in a simple web-format, which is why we are happy to announce the release of our publication - edition of 80 copies - which offers an indepth exploration of our ten-day experience together. Further angles will also be continuously expressed as we continue to build our research archive.
It is important to share our immense gratitude for the support of Česko-Německý Fond Budoucnosti, Keramika Maříž and Kulturbrücke Fratres, whose assistance went a long way in allowing us to realise this edition of the Summer School. We are also very thankful for all the other connections around the ever-expanding Maříž community who feed us with continual inspiration to keep the Summer School actively building upon our local heritag
SUMMER SCHOOL 2021
Building up to the 2021 edition of Summer School, we were posed with the question of what sustainability means to us as a collective, and how to implement its core principles into the Summer School program. This meant taking a step back from simply considering what is or is not sustainable, and moving towards a deeper understanding of the process of sustainability. To approach this vast balancing act, it is necessary to break the seemingly endless components down into a communicable framework.
After many discussions inspired by the great balancing act of the ecosystem surrounding us, the Leštnice team decided to build the 2021 program around the triadic relationship between the Environment, the Community, and the Individual. Of course, there is a lot of overlap between these elements, however, it offers a structure that is specific enough to ensure our attention is continuously drawn back to the fundamentals, whilst also being open enough to allow for spontaneity and experimentation. Having been blessed with the longstanding intergenerational exchange of Maříž, it was of vital importance to us to communicate the unique cultural and natural heritage of the township and surrounding area.
This conceptual approach culminated as the twenty participants from a variety of backgrounds come together for the ten-day ‘Residency of Spiritual Experiment and Sustainable Practice,’ held in the village of Maříž, Czech Republic. Residents explored modes of collective perception, individual expression and environmental engagement through a series of workshops in ceramics & clay, sound, and textile & costume. On top of this, we presented a series of lectures and excursions supporting an interdisciplinary approach towards sustainability.
One month after the conclusion of the program in Maříž, we were all invited by Mr. Zabka and Kunst der Lüge e.V. to gather once again in the Lügenmuseum, Radebeul, Saxony to further build upon our Czech-German heritage.
One does not have to stretch their imagination far to see why the environment plays a pinnacle role in sustainability. Being the membrane on which all of us rely upon, it is important to continually ask ourselves how do we work with, rather than against the environment.
Historically, Sudetenland acted as a kind of merging zone between Czech and Germanic culture, however, following World War II, this symbiotic relationship disappeared, and with it, the relation to the land and land management itself. To help gain a deeper understanding of the current health of the cultivated land, we invited Tomáš Uhnák, an expert in the theory of agrarian and food regime paradigms, to guide us around a number of different settings in Maříž, teaching us simple methods to analyse the health of the soil, as well as painting a stark picture of the current issues around land management.
Prior to our ability to drastically shape the land, humans have been utilising earth for its manifold applications. One example of this, which has buttressed our cultural development, is the use of earth for its colour pigments. With a history stretching back to 400.000 BC. and still being used today, Earth Colours are timeless in the truest sense of the word. To help us grasp this far-reaching tradition, we invited art historian and painter, Gisela Prokop-Maczky to give us a lecture on Earth Colours.
EARTH CODE 2
By studying the environment and working with materials gathered from the area, we build a deeper relationship with the land and start to notice some of the more subtle details surrounding us. Our hope is that by doing so, we can gain direct access to information stored in the environment. To help on this topic, we invited Artist and Educator, Ivana Králíková, whose workshop focussed on clay’s ability to transmit information.
With an unfathomable amount of applications from food to medicine and natural dyes to fibres, it is difficult to overstate the importance of plants and herbs in our lives. Within the Leštnice team, we are lucky to have a pair of particularly plant orientated people, Františka Malasková and Gabriela Sojková. Together, they guided us through this plethora of uses with an emphasis on exchange, experimentation, and reciprocity.
PLANTS AND HERBS
From education to ceremonial rituals, community can be seen all around. Although the contemporary world has been eroding many of these layers away, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not acknowledge the importance of community in our lives.
If Summer School is an experiment, then Maringotka is the laboratory where we infuse our minds with collective expression and nourish our souls through the simple act of eating together. It is definitely out of the ordinary to have twenty to thirty people sharing all their meals for ten days, and as our head chef Ondra reaffirms, this is no easy action to sustain. The thing is, an experiment is not necessarily something that ought to be sustained, but an opportunity to explore often unexplored boundaries to see what we can learn and then take back to integrate into our daily lives.
BUILDING A KILN
Clay can be found in natural deposits which scatter much of the globe, and although there is plenty of it in neighbouring regions, it is fair to say that Maříž is relatively clay poor. Despite having no long-standing clay tradition, Maříž is actually well known for its ceramic production as it houses Keramika Maříž which was established in 1991, parallel to the original Summer School. Playing with the local cultural and economic significance of ceramics in the face of a scarce clay supply, we decided to conduct a collective experiment during Summer School with the aim of testing the limits of the local environment by building a primitive kiln from scratch.
Learning to communicate our experience of sound and the impact of sound congestion on the human spirit requires a level of reflection which is scarcely allowed in our fast-paced society. Tim Abramczik is one individual who has spent much of his life delving into the abstract world of sound. We were lucky to have Tim’s experience available for the sound workshop to help guide our exploration of this vast territory. He showed us perceptions of sound in the environment and their possibility of transformation, bringing it back in the form of communal dialogue.
THE SOUND IS ALREADY
Building a temporary community beyond the everyday abundance of goods, services, and distractions requires a level of reciprocity. Just as the community is supported by many individuals, so too the community must support the development of those individuals, whilst acting in harmony with the environment. Through the textile workshop offered by Susanne Friedrich, we find a good example of this triadic reciprocity in practice. By limiting what we use to what we already have, we diminish our burden on the environment by minimising overproduction. Upcycling material has a further benefit when practised as a community as it stimulates conversation on the best use of the limited supplies. This exercise of creativity in the face of limitation can open opportunities that would not have been considered if the world’s materials were at our fingertips.
THE VEST AS A TRADITIONAL
PIECE OF CLOTHING
Of course, we cannot talk about sustainability, in all its manifold meanings, without considering that, at the end of the day, it is the individual who is going to subjectively filter and act upon whatever it is we call sustainable. As the ten days of Summer School unfolded, the entanglement between the environment in all its nuances and the newly formed community was naturally channelled into an array of subjective expressions.
On the last day, our experience was rounding down as we walked through the environment for the final ceremony, slowly absorbing the public into our now wider community. Encircling those experiences and experiments were a series of individual expressions, offered to the collective moment, encompassing our own interpretations and perspectives of our time in Maříž.
Standing as the performative embodiment of the process we went through over the ten days, each work played with random and planned elements, repositioning and transformation, collecting and sharing, sitting still and taking time, looking in and looking out, or simply, with putting on a different identity for a few hours. Everyday gestures like drinking, eating and walking, were given the space to become rituals in their own right.
In ritualising the everyday we found that time stretched outside the boundaries of Summer School while simultaneously sitting still, almost enlarged and hence big enough to reveal the fibers connecting each moment. At the core of those moments stood the simple actions of our lives, those to which we seldom pay attention, being hurried and swallowed into ever bigger questions and problems. We were, instead, sinking into them, celebrating them and offering them back to ourselves and to others.
In October we were invited by Mr. Zabka and Kunst der Lüge e.V. to gather all together once again in the Lügenmuseum, Radebeul, Saxony. With a month long rest since the Summer School we shared together our perception of this experience as well as what it followed afterwards. Since some of the students also prepared a presentation of their final project and contribution to the “research archive” we dedicated half of our symposium to the more enclosed circle inside the museum.
Meanwhile in Radebeul the famous Weinfest took place. In the midst “Labyversum”, organised by Lügenmuseum, was a place presenting work of various artists. There the Summer School joined to present to the public itself together with students and their works. Since the place was off electricity, we had to do it the “analog way” with printed posters, photos and by word. At the end of the day, a student's graduation performance took place. Out of a kinetic group sculpture each student stepped out and received an official diploma.
Tim Abramczik, Martin Ceplecha, Susanne Friedrich, Josef “Pepíno” Krejčí, Ivana Králíková, Alice Valko, Gisela Prokop Maczky, Jaromír Štěrba, Tomáš Uhnák
Jack Laing Aiken, Julian Boháč, Philip Chemayel, Nima Emami, Lukas Maar ,Františka Malasková, Isabell Alexandra Meldner, Nicolas Prokop, Gabriela Sojková, Jan Vagaday, Giulia Morlando, Ondřej Novák, Sebastian Galyga
Svetlana Biryukova, Mascha Breuer, Lotte Döhmen, Clara Harmssen, Nina van Hartskamp, Štěpán Herold, Tereza Hlaváčová, Anna Holínská, Stefanie Hollerbach, Sasha Diamond Hönigman, Hanne Jannasch,Mara Joergens, Antonio Lorusso, João Moita, Annike Nannt, Zarina Ness, Anna Neumann, Ramona Schaefer, Nadejda Tabakova, Claire Wymer
Česko-německý fond budoucnosti/ Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds
Reinhard Zabka and Kunst der Lüge e. V.
Peter Coreth, Freyia Coreth and Kulturbrücke Fratres e. V.
Jan Boháč and his Keramika Maříž and Restaurace Besídka
Petr Prokop, Zuzana Maar, Martin Ceplecha, Milan Valko, Vladimír Rajšl and others for their continuous hospitality in Maříž
Gabor Vizner, Hazel Sojková, and Richard Pales for their dedicated support behind the scenes