The project Beyond Nuclear Family, established by the Jindřich Chalupecký Society, evaluates the family as one of the basic units of togetherness found in human communities. The project is aimed primarily at offering a critical review of the modern, western family model, assessing its historical and contemporary, geographical and cultural, utopian and fictitious alternatives. The nuclear family, defined as the marital partnership of a man and a woman living with their biological children, represents an unwritten status quo in western culture. Although the nuclear family was actually at its prime only for a brief period of time during the economic boom and under specific sociocultural conditions that existed in the 1950s and early 1960s in North America, it has become a kind of a global brand, a yardstick by which we judge all other family constellations. It is a dominant paradigm at the political, social, and educational level, as well as in terms of the rule of law in both European and American context. In the Central European environment, the term (traditional) family has been used dangerously often in recent years by populist and neoliberal politicians, mostly in an attempt to restrict human rights related to reproduction, gender, equal marriage, etc.
The exhibition Beyond Nuclear Family: Recipes for Happiness is the second of three exhibitions and performances of the Jindřich Chalupecký Society on the theme of family in 2022. The spring exhibition Around the Family Table in Berlin’s alpha nova & galerie futura space is now followed by Recipes for Happiness in Prague’s Display Gallery. In November, the project will also be presented at the EFA Project Space in New York. Although each of the exhibitions represents a slightly different perspective, they build on each other conceptually and are also connected in terms of the exhibiting artists who are often represented by different works encompassed within the project. The core of the project consists of works by six Czech artists – Eva Kot’átková, Marie Lukáčová, Markéta Magidová, Vojtěch Radakulan, Jirka Skála and Martina Drozd Smutná. Their works created directly as part of Beyond Nuclear Family are complemented with contributions by a variety of other local and international artists.
The Prague exhibition entitled Beyond Nuclear Family: Recipes for Happiness provides a complex artistic probe into the various ways of creating and categorizing the family, relationships and roles that its members occupy. The exhibition’s subtitle incorporates the well-established phrase “recipe for happiness” commonly used as a hyperbole, indicating the impossibility of finding a universal recipe for a happy life. By translating this phrase into the plural, we want to express the plurality of forms that different family constellations can take. By means of the installation by the artist collective Mothers Artlovers (in collaboration with the Berlin-based collective MATERNAL FANTASIES), visitors will be given specific recipes and dishes during the exhibition, all relating to the critique of social institutions (also including the concept of family) and relationships. The audience will be able to reflect on these themes at a triangular table reminiscent of the iconic feminist work The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.
The other works on display – paintings, photographs, videos, texts, textiles, sculptures, performances, and arts research outputs – can also be freely read as possible recipes or (missing) ingredients for (family) happiness. In its totality, the exhibition thus presents a comprehensive and diverse “cookbook”.
Exhibition booklet: Beyond Nuclear Family: Recipes for Happiness
Beyond Nuclear Family represents the third phase of the long-term project of the Jindřich Chalupecký Society Islands: Possibilities of Togetherness. It is also part of the international platform Islands of Kinship: A Collective Manual for Sustainable and Inclusive Art Institutions, co-funded by the European Union.