(jiří macek) The Universální psychiatrický chrám (Universal Psychiatric Temple, UPSYCH 316a) founded by Jedinečné Svatopěstitelské Družstvo (Unique Saint-Farming Coop) in the castle of Kuřivody has been carefully documented by photographer Václav Jirásek and transferred to a unique installation at the Ateliér Josefa Sudka gallery in Prague. Apart from photos of the space and key protagonists of the spectral project, there is also a Sprostor (Dirty Space) located in Josef Sudek’s chamber.
The names may make the U316a project sound like a nightmare. Indeed, it is a nightmare. The Jedinečné Svatopěstitelské Družstvo (JSD) has collected and sorted discarded objects from bins and containers for years and gradually filled the space of the former castle with them. However, the objects are not allowed to lie waste in the castle – they continuously change place throughout the castle under the supervision of the Generální Štábu Ducha (General Staff of the Spirit). Thus, an impression of a space that permanently shifts is created where solid contours vanish. JSD explains the UPSYCH 316a in the following way: “UPSYCH 316a is a materialized interspace of two extreme concepts of psychiatric treatment. It is a conventional institutional treatment in locked, almost empty rooms on the one hand and an alternative approach with an emphasis on individual freedom for clients on the other hand. U316a should serve as an example that could be used in arguments on both sides. U316a should provide asylum and background for individuals and groups of people with an exceptionally sensitive psyche, extraordinary talent, obsession, or mania from which they should not be cured, but should develop as much as possible. For this reason, there are 21 specialized, up-to-date custom-made wards. Most U316a furnishings come from bins and containers from where it was saved by units of Špružení Šmelců (ŠŠ).”
Apart from the artistic and philosophical questions posed by the JSD itself, the bizarre artistic experiment asks the interesting question of our relation to objects and their impact on our lives. This is an interesting document about the life of objects and their relation to other objects. The studio of photographer Sudek, who managed to move people with his view of simple things and retreats, is pervaded by the impalpable U316a, crammed full of objects in the exhibition by Václav Jirásek. The heaps, in reality – and probably more impressively in the photos by Václav Jirásek – erase contours and take us back into emptiness.