DIALOG: Prague/Los Angeles 1989-90

Celebrating the 30 year anniversary at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague

When/Where:

14 November 2019

Exhibition open at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art

ArtArchives, mala věž

Poupětova 1

170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice

Czech Republic

Police at demonstration in Prague, August, 1989

ArtDialog began as an idea of two women, Barbara Benish (USA) and Zdenka Gabalova (CZ). They met in Prague in the summer of 1986 and began formulating plans for an even larger exchange between American and Czechoslovak artists.

This was significant because, at the time, Prague was closed off to western influence and hadn't been exposed to American art and culture for decades; obviously Americans were also denied access to all that developed behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. 

Despite heavy police surveillance and political challenges on both sides of the Atlantic, the artists were able to successfully share this dialogue and exhibited in multiple galleries in Prague in July, 1989. The exchange truly proceeded the following summer in Los Angeles in 1990, to everyone’s surprise, when the Berlin Wall came down and the borders again opened up. 

Shortly after the exhibitions in Prague, the huge political and cultural shift within Czechoslovakia came to be known as the "Velvet Revolution". Democracy was restored after fifty years, freedom of expression again welcomed, and the former dissident and writer, Vaclav Havel became President. 

This year we celebrate the 30 year anniversary of our art exchange between the two countries through the lens of 15 American and 12 Czechoslovak artists, that was a cultural leap of faith and freedom that helped open doors and dialogue in the summers of 1989 and ‘90..

The exhibition of ArtDialog’s Archives includes photographs, audio, documents and correspondence leading up to the exhibition, interviews and much more.

This was a formative point in history and we are excited to share with you where it all started, and celebrate how far we have come.

DIALOGUE ,1989

Demonstration, Old Town Square, Prague 1989

Tomaš Ruller performance, Prague 1989

DOX Centre for Contemporary Art

Wall of Dialog posters, Prague 1989

Lom party in Czechoslovakia, 1989

(L to R) Zdenka Gabalova, Barbara Benish, and Jane Fonda at the Jane Fonda Fundraiser, 1990

Crowd outside of Otis Parsons gallery in LA, 1990

Czech artists arrive in LA, 1990

Zdenka Gabalova, Los Angeles 1990