The Difference Between Then and Now

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TINA-B Festival
Nostic Palace, Czech Ministry of Culture, Prague
October 7-24th, 2010

In the October 2010 TINA-B Contemporary Art Festival in Prague, Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick will re-stage their 2006 project The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn. Originally developed in York, Alabama, USA, Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick borrowed lamps from the residents and installed them in an abandoned grocery store. Each lamp was set to turn on every night, and because of the inexactitude of the timers chosen, did so in an organic fashion, one by one, reflecting not only the participants in the community, but also the history of Alabama’s social movements. In an area where a nearby hazardous waste landfill caused the water undrinkable, the artists and the community collectively revived the vacant commercial space, removing roomfuls of damaged post-Katrina FEMA water boxes and transforming the downtown with the lamps, pulsing at their own pace, human in the imperfections and variety, and more powerful as a collection.

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As if a scientific study with controls, the re-staging of the project in Prague and Venice studies the nature of site-specific and community-based art. Both cities provide unusual cross-cultural comparisons about domestic settings and the cultural, geographical and political structures that affect private space. The 2006 installation developed before the U.S. housing crisis, and these 2010 installations will develop as the global economy still recovers from the impact of the current economic downturn. In this context, the simple gesture of gathering of everyday objects and spaces can yield unusual insights into common assumptions about micro-macros shifts—the individual and the state, private spaces and public concerns, local and global.

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