Maříž (Mayres), a small village in South Bohemia which borders with Austria, was once a place where Czechs and Germans lived side by side. Like many other settlements nestled in the Sudetenland, it experienced a turbulent course of events over the past century. After the Velvet Revolution, a group of artists from Prague settled in nearby Slavonice, establishing their Summer School of Spiritual Experiment and Art in Practice. Attracting the attention of a broad range of locals and foreigners, the landscape was once again transformed into a hub of intercultural exchange.
Through a close conversation with those who established and ran the Summer School for 11 years, we follow their legacy and bring it up to date through our own initiative. We do so by living and working alongside the students for 10 days, led by experienced artists from the former collective, along with a broader team of young creatives who also have close ties with the area. Together, we create the experience of a temporary tribe, whose creative outcome can serve as a sociological study of collaboration across cultures through a singular constructed “culture”.
The opening of the Iron Curtain paved the way for various artists and creatives from Prague (Trubáček, Boháč a Žampa) to realize their idea of a summer school in Slavonice, where they founded the creative centre ‘Besídka’. Over the following 11 years the project continued to take place in there, attracting many Czech and for- eign artists including David Vávra, Aleš Najbrt, Jaroslav Róna, and Karel Babuljak, just to name a few. Students were coming from all around the world to spend 10 days joining in a variety of fine art workshops based on scenery and cos- tumes, that were part of the final theatre play curated by the theatre “Sklep”.
From then on, Slavonice and neighbouring Maříž became a hotspot for international creatives which is how our own Czech-German relation started to grow. We would like to take the initiative and use our ongoing collaboration to uplift and revive the tradition of Maříž Summer School.
The first new edition since 2006 took place in August 2019. Together we experienced ten days of spiritual experiment and art in practice by offering five workshops, lectures, excursions and communal living in order to come into a collective mindset.
We, as the new generation consider Maříž as our shared center to express and further develop our interest in working with nature and its elements. The core team consists of young creatives from different fields and schools that regularly gather in Maříž. Former professors and artist from the original Summer School join the team in an effort to lead, support and guide the participating students.
As the core team behind the Summer School, we were researching our surroundings geographically, culturally and historically within a two-week residency in Maříž. This residency was planned to experiment with new approaches for the Summer School 2021, but also to create a similar setting and draw from our own experiences and find inspiration to further develop the Summer School project. Moreover, the outcome was a collective performance ending in an exhibition at Museum Humanum Fratres, for the symposium presenting the younger generations of artists from the border region, organised by Kulturbrücke e.V. on 29. 8. 2020. As a new focus environmental topics emerged and manifested in research in and experiment with clay processing and ceramics, sustainable use of natural materials for artistic processes and exploring the environment as an inherent part of the Summer School. Further we started a research archive inspired by the practise of artistic research to further capture outcomes of the School, but also our own experiments and projects revolving around the South Bohemian Region.
Over the 10-day residency, we explored modes of collective perception, individual expression and environmental engagement through a series of workshops in ceramics & clay, sound, and textile & costume. We focused on sustainable ways of working with and processing natural materials through the stages of artistic production. The programme took participants on various excursions and lectures in the fields of earth pigments, natural dyes, herbology, earth and soil as well as body and movement with an emphasis on the cultural and natural heritage of the surrounding.
In 2022, we invited a group of residents from a variety of professional fields to participate in Leštnice’s ‘Residency in Maříž’. Through this interdisciplinary research project, we aimed to establish a lasting dialogue between the environment of Maříž, and the many lives that have been fueled by spending time there. The residency ended in a public event at Spolkový dům in Slavonice.
We are pleased to announce the OPEN CALL for the third edition of ‘Letní škola Maříž / Sommerschule Mayres’, and happily invite you to apply for the ‘Spiritual Experiment and Collective Habitat in Practice’ to be held from 16-27.08.2023 in the village of Maříž, Czech Republic.
Over the 10-day residency, we will explore new forms of collaboration and community building through the theme of "Social Architecture and Participatory Design" with a series of workshops: “Building as a Social Process” by MAK! Studio; “Sound & Music” by Marius Houschyar Friedrich with Karel Babuljak; and “Storytelling” by the Leštnice team.
This project has been generously supported by the community of Maříž, friends of the Summer School and the following: