26/6/2020 – 2/8/2020
Max Vajt is a student of Hynek Alt’s at FAMU’s Department of Photography, but spent last year studying under Tomáš Svoboda at AVU, which is where we met with him. At Galerie 35m2, he is presenting the third and final stage of his episodic project Up in the Sky, which takes the form of a video installation inspired by the atmosphere of air shows. The video’s aesthetic style is based on 1990s computer game visuals.
The work creates a sense of tension between past and present. The escapism with which Vajt works in this piece reflect the human desperation and anxiety that inspire people’s escape into imaginary worlds where they can tackle future situations. The project’s first two parts took the form of a video and interactive computer game. In the first episode, a narrator introduces the viewer to a community living on an airplane that provides never-ending entertainment and nourishment to guarantee the utopian mood of the people stuck on this endless flight. This concept is a reference to the current phenomenon of ghost flights, empty airplanes kept flying in the air – a policy that was recently highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This need to maintain at least 80% of slots and the rule of use it or lose it represent an absurd situation in terms of both economics and the environment.
In the second episode, the crisis comes. The mysterious and invisible process involved in ensuring deliveries comes to and end, food runs short, and interactive entertainment panels cease to function. It is like Théodor Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa: Who will survive? The capitalist utopia is followed by a turn of events that reflects the paradox of the automated world. People start to doubt themselves and begin to see the truth about the limits to humankind’s existence.
The third episode represent a return to “normalcy.” But it is a “new normal.” The rules of the community have changed, the unseen narrator becomes the leader, and feelings of anxiety are reduced as he introduces order and meaning into life. We also find that the airplane is more than a machine; it is a thinking being that sets conditions and places demands. The work’s double meaning emerges from the extent to which we use and make room for the automatization of artificial existence, and thus how much we question our own human existence.
When, at the start of part three, the nameless and dead become a part of the labor force, this bothers the airplane because it violates the rules of air traffic. For when an individual is born or dies on board, he cannot be given a birth or death certificate. The flying thought-machine thus demands that all nameless and dead be returned to limbo.
Space-time disappears and the uncertainty of the future reflects the fact that there is no escape from the plane. Although this voluntary, free community has experienced all of its benefits, the situation quickly becomes a forced, endless crossroads. The entire project points to historical examples of utopian communities but also reflects contemporary air transport as such: Although they may seem utopian in how they function, the consequences of their unsustainability can quickly transform them into a reality possessing dystopian elements.
curated by František Fekete a Tereza Záchová