A new exhibition presents the lifestyles of Czechs of different classes

The Kolemjdoucí, or Passersby, exhibition gives visitors the rare chance to enter an apartment building in Prague’s Karlín district and freely explore several dwellings inside. The exhibition is curated by the Pomezí Theater Ensemble and consists of six miniature apartments, each apartment representing the home of a fictional inhabitant of a distinct social class.

Barbora Klapalová, head of the exhibition’s creative team, told Czech radio that the aim of the project is to encourage visitors to overcome stereotypes when thinking about people from different backgrounds.

Exhibition 'Passants' by the Pomezí theater ensemble |  Photo: René Volfik, Czech Radio

“The main objective is to show people more about other people, for example those they pass on the street, and to demonstrate that these passers-by are really different from what they may seem at first glance.”

The theme of the exhibition is inspired by the study Divided by Freedom, commissioned by Czech Radio in 2019. Investigating both economic and socio-cultural factors, the study found that Czech society was stratified into six social classes , including the most disadvantaged. impoverished class” as well as the prosperous “emerging cosmopolitan” and “secure middle” classes.

Exhibition 'Passants' by the Pomezí theater ensemble |  Photo: René Volfik, Czech Radio

To create its new exhibition, the Pomezí ensemble joined forces with one of the co-authors of the study, the sociologist Martin Buchtík.

The exhibition is a so-called narrative space, which uses sets and props to tell a story. Visitors can investigate the interior decor and personal belongings of the apartments to glean information about the lives and characters of the fictional residents. These include a nurse from the “endangered class” or a well-to-do young man belonging to the “emerging cosmopolitan class”. Barbora Klapalová says the exhibits aim to offer more than just a static view of the lives of locals.

“As we explore each apartment, we can discover how the people who live there came to be who they are. Because they are all shaped by our family, our childhood and the different approaches to life we ​​learn from our parents.

Each of the exhibits also contains the primary school photos of the residents. Klapalová explains this common link between each apartment.

Exhibition 'Passants' by the Pomezí theater ensemble |  Photo: René Volfik, Czech Radio

“All the residents are between 27 and 30 years old. The main thing is that they all come from a similar background, having each attended the same primary school. People sometimes forget the fate of their primary school friends. But former classmates from different social backgrounds often have very different lives. In primary school, class boundaries are still very permeable, so it’s a space where six people from very different social classes can meet.

Exhibition 'Passants' by the Pomezí theater ensemble |  Photo: René Volfik, Czech Radio

According to Klapalová, the Kolemjdoucí exhibition is a combination of an artistic and sociological project. The exhibition is located at Za Poříčskou bránou 7, a few steps from the Florenc metro station.

Berta D. Wells