Since at least as early as 1919 it was been a hallowed custom for the Czech president to organize events that fall under the umbrella category of “feasts” – i.e., a wide variety of breakfast junkets, luncheons, gatherings, garden parties, dinners, tea-parties, banquets, and such. Apart from official repasts held in honor of eminent foreign guests, Czech presidents have also hosted such feasts for domestic guests.
These “feasts” have at all times served as thoroughly socio-political events, also representing a platform for discussion. In the past, their mission was to connect diverse fields and figures that otherwise had little in common. Presidents thus played the role of a sort of mediator. Around a table and in conversation over dinner, the assembled journalists, teachers, politicians, artisans, students, rectors, workers, judges, and members of the military and the clergy could meet and engage in discourse. At other times, such feasts served the purpose of solidifying relations within a given social class, as for example in the case of the “workers’ dinner” held in 1922, the garden party of the National Council of Women in 1930, or the annual journalists’ tea party.
Along similar lines, on 29 January, 1947, then-President Edvard Beneš played host to a “reception for artists and those working in the field of culture”. The ranks of those who accepted his invitation included the chancellors of several art schools and academies of performing arts, the director of the National Theater, representatives of various artistic societies and discussion groups, artists, writers and musicians, but also public functionaries (e.g. from the Czech Academy of Arts and Sciences, or the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture). Just as a photograph serves as the copy of a (no longer extant) original (situation), so the “reception for artists and the field of culture” is itself a copy, or rather a staged re-enactment of the original event. The motivation for unearthing such a photograph-event from the album of history may be to revive the memory of forgotten forms of communication as an important component in society-building or community power, or perhaps also an effort to break away from the highly professionalized and atomized contemporary society, whose methods of communication and sharing are deeply limiting and infringing.
After the event follows the Afterparty at Café Neustadt, Karlovo náměstí 1, Prague 2.