Responses * Kafka's Prague

Jirí Kolár


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Twisted Spoon Press
13 September 2021
ISBN: 9788086264578
132 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Ryan Scott and Kevin Blahut

Written and compiled in the 1970s but facing virtually no prospect of being published in communist Czechoslovakia, “Responses” and “Kafka’s Prague” first appeared together in 1984 with the exile publishing house Index based in Cologne, Germany. The text discusses Kolář’s influences and his wide variety of collage techniques as well as his views on art and literature in general. “Kafka’s Prague” is a series of color crumplages of Prague’s buildings, streets, squares, and gardens accompanied by short extracts from Franz Kafka’s work, which was likewise banned by the regime, as a sort of homage to the city whose artistic vitality was being snuffed out by communist repression. Taken together, the result is a fascinating document akin to an artist’s book that captures Kolář’s creative flux at a particular moment in time.

Crumplage is a technique developed by Kolář in which a sheet of paper or reproduction is crumpled at random and then flattened out and pasted onto a backing, creating a deformation of the original image or a new image. As he explained it in his Dictionary of Methods: “Crumplage washed over me on a huge wave of gesturalism during a period when the graphic artist Vladimír Boudník was running his marathon in Bohemia fueled to the hilt by Explosionalism and structural prints. The first crumplages I made were monochrome, either white or black. Anyone can crumple wet paper, and if that doesn’t work, all you need to do is toss a few magazine pages onto the sidewalk in the rain. The rain and the trampling of passersby or the tires of cars will do the trick. Believe me, I’ve tried this many times, and Boudník was the only one who didn’t thumb his nose at me. This didn’t surprise me. He was one of the very few who knew how to read a picture in creases, on walls, etc. ... The analogies to events in life and explosions of fate, which can ‘crumple’ a person so suddenly and profoundly that the consequences of such an inner tornado can never be smoothed or straightened out, convinced me that this technique of mine was indeed
useful for gaining insight.”