Jakub Hosek is an artist, promoter and owner of the AMDISCS label. He is part of the A.M.180 collective, and runs the festival Creepy Teepee. For this feature he is one of seven voices in our series of monologues on the city of Prague. Read more here.
5:50 pm: Jakub Hošek
It all started here at Utopia in Belehradská 45. When we were still teenagers and just starting to get involved in the activities which now define our lives, we shared this space with friends that we met at the Ladronka squat in Prague… although, in those days, I had to climb in through the window. While the squatting-scene eventually brought Utopia into the orbit of the greater anarchist movement as an information cell, it also laid the foundation for many of our future projects.
Soon after we started our gallery, we set up a show in this space with Nina Nastasia from Touch and Go Records, which was the very first concert that we organized independently. Because we felt at the time that there was very little happening in the city that was of interest to us, we decided in 2003 to set up the A.M.180 Collective as a means of strengthening alternative culture in Prague. Since all of us are connected to the art scene—two of us being painters—and we all share a love for music, our initial idea was to bring art into contact with people who are into music, and vice versa. Even though it’s still unclear whether this idea has fully materialized in a larger sense, the inter-connection between different kinds of art is definitely the main theme of our festival, Creepy Teepee. And while there seems to be more and more people experimenting with new artistic material in Prague nowadays, the audience for this kind of creative material strangely does not appear to be growing. We are still only talking about a few dozen people on the scene here. When we started all this around 2000, there was great hunger for alternative culture. We used to invite people to our gigs by passing out burnt CDs. Now we are situated somewhere at the intersection of various scenes. With both music and art, we are generally very open, and are into everything from punk and hardcore to electronic music; from video art to painting. Most of these subcultures tend to be pretty insular, so, in contrast, we try to emphasize transgression and boundary-crossing where the different genres intersect or maybe even dissolve… which is sometimes a pretty thankless position to have. Most people want to belong somewhere, but that’s not what we offer. These days people are always talking about hipsters, but they often mistake hipsters for trendsetters. Hipsters have a herd mentality, and are driven by a desire to profit. We are driven by the discovery of something unique for us and other like-minded people, something difficult to name that makes a scene interesting and worthwhile.
This attitude toward culture is different abroad, especially in places where art has a revered position in society. In Prague, however, people have the feeling that they need to show off when they go to concerts, which makes engaging in cultural activity here seem more superficial. For example, when a fifty year-old comes to the MeetFactory, people will laugh at him, even though he probably came for the same reasons they did.
In addition to the gallery space, the festival, and the concerts, we also run a label called AMDISCS. While the label is definitely a useful channel for forging contacts with international artists, we also founded it in order to release and promote more Czech acts. At first, our goal with the festivals was to help bring Czech artists into contact with foreign music, but we later realized that most of them weren’t that interested. However, some of the people who attended our gigs were inspired to start making their own music, which led to the release of several Czech projects like dné or Table, along with the local project Climatizado, our first release. It was a bit off-putting, though, that so many of the artists were so reluctant to pay attention to the international context when promoting their work—such as blog-culture, for example. I’m not saying that we won’t release a Czech act in future, but right now, we are more interested in stuff that can make it on an international scale.
We care about our small, practically non-existent scene here, and we are fond of Prague, the city we were born in and remain connected to. Everything we do—be it our own art, concerts, exhibitions or the label—is taken with equal seriousness. The interconnectedness of these projects is of the utmost importance; one can’t function without the other. And we personally wouldn’t be able to function without this in our lives as well.
This text first appeared in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 31 (Fall 2012)
Photo: Luci Lux