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FUTURA to enrich Prague's art-scene

Prague. The capital of the Czech Republic. Almost on that imposed border where the West once ceased to exist to let the East begin. Since the fall of Berlin's wall, high on the list of the most beloved cities in Europe. Interesting, fascinating, amazingly beautiful, culturally and artistically very rich: these are just a few comments one hears about it all the time. As if the city had put a spell on each and every tourist that paid a visit. Some of them don't even bother to make their way back home. Since the end of the former eastern block, thousands of foreigners have chosen Prague as their adoptive city. Allegedly, one out of ten Prague's inhabitants is a foreigner.
Alberto Di Stefano, Eugenio Percossi, Camille Hunt and Marisa Ravelli-Prihodova - respectively, two Italians and two Americans - probably experienced the same. When they met - not even two years ago - they had a couple of basic things in common: they all lived in Prague and they all had a strong interest in arts. Something clicked and they set for themselves a common goal: filling the rapidly-emerging gap between small commercial galleries and larger institutions experienced by Prague's art scene as well as introducing a multidisciplinary vision of the arts in a city where connections between disciplines seem not to be running smoothly. The idea was creating a centre for arts and events. In June 2003, FUTURA - a non-profit centre for national and international contemporary art - was born.

The cellar-style look of FUTURA's first floor
courtesy FUTURA

FUTURA is just ten minutes away from Prague's city centre, in a district called Smichov. Its premises used to be an old factory which underwent major renovation. Still, no matter the huge amount of work it needed, the four founders found it at once the ideal space. In the rough design the old building was originally offering, they could clearly envisage what would become FUTURA's major feature: an uncommon combination of white-cube exhibition halls and cellar-style spaces. Today, the complex stretches over 800m˛ divided into three floors. Downstairs, one can find the cellar-style spaces, generally hosting young, more experimental artists (by now, the lower floor should as well have a bookshop and a café). Upstairs, the white-cube exhibitions halls - called Hall I and II - are filled with natural, bright daylight and they are reserved for more established artists.

Hall I: one of the two FUTURA's white-cube exhibition spaces in the upper floors
courtesy FUTURA

This year, and for the first time, FUTURA took part to The Armory Show (New York, March 12-15, 2004) to inform a much broader audience about its goals, described as follows in its exhaustive brochure: "Our aim is to link the broader public with contemporary fine art, and to facilitate a more fluid dialogue between the various fields of art and culture. FUTURA strives to become a vital partner within the larger visual art community and we seek co-operation with galleries, institutions, and artists from other countries. We believe that contemporary art, as a unique universal language, can make a significant contribution towards understanding between peoples and cultures."

Aerial view of Castle Trebesice's domain
courtesy FUTURA

Since 2003, FUTURA offers The Castle Trebesice Artists-in-residence Programme too. The programme will be held every summer at the premises of this fully-renovated Renaissance castle, located just outside a small town called Kutná Hora, one hour east of Prague. The aim of such activity is encouraging the exchange among artists and art-related professionals; FUTURA's aspiration is widening the programme by involving other arts organisations to work together in common activities.

Text: M. Cecchinato
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