TRAFACKA: TEMPLE OF FREEDOM

TRAFAČKA: CHRÁM SVOBODY

By Saša DLOUHÝ

FREESAM - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 2011

What can be done with an abandoned factory space that is destined to be demolished in a year?
The story of the last period in the life cycle of a building in Prague´s District of Vysocany, and the creation of a significant centre on the cultural map of the Czech Republic.

    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • CZECH REPUBLIC
    • Languages
    • CZECH
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Duration
    • 75 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Saša DLOUHÝ
    • Writer(s)
    • Saša DLOUHÝ
    • Producer(s)
    • Saša DLOUHÝ (freeSaM)
    • Synopsis
    • In the autumn of 2006, a group of artists who had all graduated from various artistic schools, leased a partly burnt factory space for a symbolic rent. Formerly, it was used as a storage place and repair shop for electrical transformers. But originally the building was erected in Prague´s District of Vysočany in 1921 as a power switching and transforming unit. In 1936, on the occasion of the celebration of the 80th birthday of Nicola Tesla, it was renamed Tesla´s Switching and Converter Station. In May 1945 the Allies hit the building during the bombing raid on Prague´s industrial areas and thus, quite inadvertently, made it possible for the building to be rebuilt and take on the shape and appearance in which the group of young artists found it when they took it over from Prague Real Estate Administration (PSN), owned by the bankrupt banker and businessman Václav Skala.
      Without any experience whatsover, this group of five young artists took over a large industrial site. Their intention was to create a cultural centre open to all forms of art. A limiting factor was the lack of funds and, at first, the limited life of the project. Given the presumed demolition of the building and planned development of an office centre, the landlord offered a mere one year lease term.
      Officially, "Trafačka" , as the space was called, was opened on December 1, 2006 on the occasion of a joint exhibition by of all the residents at that time. Jakub Nepraš, Jan Kaláb, Michal Cimala, Roman Týc and Martin Káňa approached Blanka Čermáková, who becameTrafačka´s producer, asking her to cooperate with them. Thanks to her participation a fixed exhibition and workshop schedule was set, and Trafačka gradually started to become recognised as a significant centre for the presentation of young artists on both a national and an international level. The growing number of successful projects by individual members of Trafačka contributed to the development of its local prestige in the world of art. On the other hand, the different views and objectives of the artists started to collide. It was particularly apparent in the initial period when Trafačka used to be closely connected with the artist group Ztohoven, who shot to fame due to projects which attrected the attention of the media, such as the fake nuclear explosion broadcast by Czech Television. The growing intensity of controversies led to the departure of Roman Týc. On the other hand, the landlord extended the lease after the first year, and Citizen´s Association Trafačka gradually started to acquire free apartments in an adjacent block of courtyard balcony apartmens. The original tenants were evicted by the Prague Real Estate Administration in various ways, and the empty premises, mostly unfit for housing, got altered by the Trafačka artists into new studios or apartments for foreign artists.
      A significant moment in the life of Trafačka was the invitation of several of its members to take part in the Shanghai World Expo. Consenquently exhibits by Jakub Nepraš and Jan Kaláb were included in the presentation of the Czech Republic at the World Exhibition in China.
      Lasting economic recession resulted in the preservation of the building, confined between the streets of Českomoravská, Ocelářská and Kurta Konráda, and so far it has not been demolished, as the originall plans for the building called Triangle have been postponed.
      Unfortunately, the area in the neighbourhood of Trafačka ended up going a different way. A giant shopping centre was developed simultaneously with the growing significance of the cultural centre. It was completed in the autumn of 2010. The uncertainty connected with the future development made all the founding members of Trafačka leave their studios in 2011.
    • Partners & financing
    • freeSaM, Czech TV
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