Prague’s Signal Festival adds a new route in Holešovice this year (UPDATE: the festival has been postponed)

This year's theme revolves around the environment and sustainable living; festival highlights include two videomappings

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 04.09.2020 09:34 (updated on 30.10.2020)

UPDATE: Signal Festival will not take place on the previously scheduled dates in October. The organizers will announce further information when it becomes available.

The eighth year of the Signal Festival will present 15 installations of light art and digital culture. New this year is a festival route in Prague’s Holešovice district, which will complement the popular routes through Karlín and the historical corners of the Old Town. The festival takes place October 15–18.

The festival’s theme is Plan B. The organizers and artists want people to think about what can be done for planet Earth and how to live sustainably. Many works of artworks also respond to this year’s pandemic situation.

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Blooming of Light / via Signal

“The theme of the festival is Plan B. Originally we had environmental issues in mind, the problems of deforestation, the accumulation of waste, the carbon footprint. However, in the spring of 2020, everything took a new direction. From the beginning of the crisis, we knew that we were continuing the preparations for the festival, and we wanted to make it happen. We have intensively addressed its safety with leading Czech epidemiologists,” festival director Martin Pošta said.

“We have maximally reduced the time that visitors stay in one place and thus the length of installations that run in a loop. Installations are reasonably planned so that no one has to stay longer than 15 minutes. We also plan very strict hygiene measures for the staff you meet at the festival, as well as frequent disinfection of all festival premises. Of course, we have to take everything into account,” he added.

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Reality Check by Lucie Kramperová / via Signal

The new festival route Holešovice has one of the most anticipated works of art, a 3D projection from the Spanish studio Onionlab, which will use the well-known environment of the Industrial Palace at Výstaviště.

This year is more focused on Czech visual artists, due to travel restrictions. One of the most prominent names is the conceptual social artist Milena Dopitová, who will present a kinetic object called Jeff at the Štvanice hydroelectric power plant, and draw attention to the effects of modern society on nature.

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Jeff by Milena Dopitová / via Signal

Jiří Černický, a visual artist, creator of experimental and intermedia projects and head of the Painting Studio at UMPRUM, will prepare a mysterious and impressive projection of aquatic animals hidden in the depths of the ocean. Visitors will find his installation Archaic Topicalities (Archaické aktuality) in the gardens of the St. Agnes Monastery (Klášter sv. Anežky České).

The interactive, playful and energetically independent kinetic installation Blooming of Light (Rozkvétání světla) was created by designers Roman Vrtiška and Vladimír Žák. Spectators can interact with technological flowers in front of the Main Point Karlín building.

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Jiří Černický’s Archaic Topicalities / via Signal

There will also be a popular videomapping called The Wind on the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius on Karlínské náměstí. “We enjoy exploring other possibilities of the genre. The German studio Weltraumgrafik interestingly interprets this year’s festival theme. Their projection is abstract and hypnotic,” festival program manager Matěj Vlašánek said.

“They are responding to a global pandemic that has changed everything but not everything for the wrong. They see the disaster as a challenge and a new beginning. We were looking for a similar positive image to utopian scenarios for the future. We don’t just want to be negative and sad. Together with the artists, we would like to look for unusual solutions and alternative scenarios,” Vlašánek added.

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Videomapping of The Wind on the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius / via Signal

The description of The Wind says that we are living in an irrational era. “Everything is changing. Uncertainty has become ubiquitous. This spring, with the Covid-19 pandemic, has taught us that we all share our one and only planet, whose global problems must be tackled globally. A catastrophe can become a challenge. A new chance to make a fresh and better start,” the description states.

“The Wind is a work about the future. The wind is a symbol of change and uncertainty that we do not have to fear. An uncertainty which is also a creative principle. How else can we move forward? How else can we stop making the same mistakes? The Wind is an abstract and hypnotic projection. Chaos, crisis, change, remedy. Restart. Conflict as an inseparable part of evolutionary processes. Utopia, dystopia. An old end, a new beginning. Let yourselves be carried away; make a fresh and better start,” the description concludes.

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Šimon Mašek and Josef Schmidt’s Permafrost at the Klementinum / via Signal

Signal Festival supports young Czech artists. Kateřina Blahutová, the winner of the open call Signal Calling, will captivate visitors with her playful crowdfunding interactive installation Living Forest (Živý les), about deforestation of the natural landscape. It can be found in Stromovka.

Students will present their installations in the courtyard of the Klementinum. There will be four pieces including the projection Reality Check by Lucie Kramperová, Birdscape by Klára Míčková, Permafrost by Šimon Mašek and Josef Schmidt, and You, Too, Are in Denial of Climate Change! (Změnu klimatu popíráš i ty!).

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Markéta Jáchimová’s The Machine at Holešovice / via Signal

This year, the accompanying program of the festival will take place in several locations. Michal Škapa prepared a neon installation for the 125th anniversary of the Prague Market (Pražská tržnice). Divadlo Archa hosts the audiovisual performance Vektroskop on October 17 and 18. It festures scenography by Petr Nikl, illuminated by light design by Patrik Sedlák and lasers by David Vrbík.

People can find the festival map directly on the website. The ticket system will also be simpler. Visitors can get four paid installations within the main program, which are located in the Industrial Palace of the Výstaviště, the Prague Planetarium, the Hauch Gallery and in the garden of the St. Agnes Monastery, thanks to the purchase of the Signal Pass.

The pass costs 200 CZK until September 20, 250 CZK from September 21 until the beginning of the festival, and 300 CZK on the spot. Family passes are also available this year. Some events in the accompanying program are have an admission fee.

For more information visit the Signal website or Facebook page.