Daily Bread

Galerie Kontext 27 03 — 04 05
Opening — 26 03 2024

Lenka Tyrpeklová’s exhibition project Daily Bread (or Fairy Tales from Prison) presents the environment of prisons in the Czech Republic and gives us a glimpse into the lives of female prisoners. The main symbol that ties the whole exhibition together is bread. Bread replacing women’s faces is their anonymized representative. The real faces of the female prisoners have disappeared during their stay behind bars, each of them finds herself not only without her face but also without her own personality.

The video series Daily Bread records authentic absurd situations representing the daily routine of the bread women or women in prison, but they are transformed into the required stylization. Thus, we witness often bizarre moments that seem almost fictional contrasted with scenes that evoke the impression of everyday life.

Women fall asleep in front of the television, discussing potato salad recipes, only to then put together a children’s Winnie the Pooh puzzle to the sounds of the music of bratři Nedvědi. The nature of each video is conceived as an epic tale in timelessness, supported by an engaging narrator. The serious situations in places appear light-hearted, seemingly cheerful, but at their core they are imbued with sadness and hopelessness, evoking feelings of heaviness and uncertainty in the viewer.

Lenka Tyrpeklová’s work has long called attention to the shortcomings and dysfunctionality of the Czech prison system, addressing the broader social underlying causes and consequences of punishment. She began her initial probe into this issue in 2017, in the environment of Plzeň Bory Prison, and subsequently also in Bělušice Prison.

The social-critical and activist direction of the artistic research itself is then transferred not only to the gallery environment, but also beyond the artistic production, both in the form of educational programs at Bělušice Prison with a focus on teaching art that can positively influence the attitudes and behavior of prisoners, and by opening a discussion on the future reform of the prison system.

The exhibition in Galerie TIC is a continuation of the extensive project DNO DEN, which focused on the Czech prison system and its dysfunctionality. The recidivism rate in the Czech Republic is one of the highest in the European Union and almost three-quarters of prisoners return to prison. The question remains as to how effective the correctional and reintegration mechanism that these facilities are supposed to be, and when it comes to the crunch in terms of access to social inequalities and determinations.