Swans, or The Inheritance of the ’90s

This year marks 30 years since the release of director Věra Chytilová’s film The Inheritanceor Fuckoffguysgoodday. We didn’t want to let this anniversary quietly pass us by, and so we approached three artists and designers with an offer to create for us (and you) their own artistic renditions of one of the film’s most iconic symbols – the carousel swan. The three works for the limited-edition series Swans were created by designer Maxim Velčovský, artist Martin Lukáč, and illustrator Maria Makeeva.

Video Dita Havránková

The absurd elegance of silent swans

When it came out, the provocative film managed to surprise, outrage, and push the boundaries of the bizarre. Critics immediately condemned the work and unceremoniously lumped it in with comedies in the style of  Zdeněk Troška, such as the Slunce, seno series or Trhala fialky dynamitem. When The Inheritance, which stars the one and only Bolek Polívka, later became a cult hit, it was first and foremost due to its unrefined humour and secondly because of what that humour meant – for the film exposed the weaknesses of both the poor and the rich and, above all, shone a light deep into the chasm between them. The silent witnesses to this “millionaire story” were, among others, the carousel swans, which, with their excessive opulence, became a symbol of the film.

The official poster for the film The Inheritance, or Fuckoffguysgoodday

Swan nostalgia

We approached several artists and designers with an offer to artistically reshape this carnival attraction in any way they wanted, with a view to the specific nostalgia of the 1990s. The three participating creators each had their own unique take.

Maxim Velčovský: Tssst

Building on the peculiar restaurant culture in the film, designer Maxim Velčovský covered his swan with beer bottle caps from various breweries and named it Tssst, after the sound a bottle makes when it is opened. The result is a pop art piece in which advertising forms the bridge between the worlds of art and film.

Maxim Velčovský (*1976) is one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Czech design. A Prague native, he teaches at UMPRUM, founded the Qubus studio, and is the creative director of Lasvit. He works primarily with glass and porcelain in his design practice. 

Maxim Velčovský’s swan in production, photo by Dita Havránková 

Martin Lukáč: Trophy

The fun process of creation is essential to this work by Lukáč. He approached his swan called Trophy like a statue, tagging and painting it with child-like joy in order to create something between a street art object and an abstract painting.

Slovak artist Martin Lukáč (*1989), who is currently based in Prague, grew up in the Petržalka housing estate in Bratislava and studied art in Košice, Prague, and Leipzig. In January 2016, he won the 9th Critics’ Prize for Young Painting.

The graffitied swan of Martin Lukáč

Maria Makeeva: Black Swan

Maria Makeeva has created a half of a swan, which is meant to be hung on a wall as a relief. The matte black swan with glossy flames is inspired by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan, which examines the phenomenon of unforeseeable events and the chaos that results from them.

Illustrator and UMPRUM graduate Maria Makeeva (*1987) is originally from Russia but has lived in Prague since she was 13 years old. She is one of the most sought-after illustrators of today and regularly appears in the nominations for Czech Grand Design.
Maria Makeeva’s Black Swan

People flocked to see the swans

We presented the Swans project to the public on 29 November at the gallery Berlinskej Model, with the artists in attendance.

From the opening of Swan Design or Inheritance of the '90s, photo by Dita Havránková

Prefer a classic?

The three original works were joined by a classic white carousel swan, which is made to be hung on a wall in a large living room or creative workspace. It is a precise cast polyurethane foam replica of the typical carousel attraction, which was then cut in half. 

White Carousel Swan, photo by Damian Skořepa