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Michal Cihlář: From the Life of Sewers

  • Where: Montmartre Gallery
  • When: May 28, 2013 – June 30, 2013

Michal Cihlář, an artist mainly known to the Czech public for his colour linocuts and photographs of a series of manhole covers, is showing his work at Galerie Montmartre.

The exhibition is taking place on the occasion of the publication of the monograph Ze života kanálů (From the Life of Sewers), the first title in the authorial series Detail v designu, design v detailu (Detail in Design, Design in Detail). The series, prepared by Michal Cihlář and Veronika Richterová, maps the subjects of their joint photography collections over the years and is issued by the Novela bohemica publishing house.

Michal Cihlář first began to concentrate on the digital photography of sewers 10 years ago, inspired by Viktor Karlík’s prints of manhole covers. However, unlike Karlík, Cihlář records not only their visual form but also their genius loci in a similar manner to, for instance, how photographer Alain Fleischer captured the corners of French streets in the 1960s. Moreover, Cihlář did not remain in Prague’s Smíchov district, but searched for these special stigmata of individual places throughout the world. Since his first photo of a manhole cover in Barcelona in 2002, a collection of thousands of pieces from around 30 countries with its own distinct taxonomy has developed; manhole covers that stand out due to their size, relief, location or use, that are a platform for street art, that connect the world. At the same time, however, this work is not mere documentation. The photographs reference sewers that are often overlooked, whose existence make present and demonstrate the colourful nature of the world we live in.

In the words of Michal Cihlář: “I see manhole covers as points of engagement. I regard them as freckles on the skin of the city whose frequency and variety slightly humanises civilisation. Thanks to this, for me a walk in any direction whatever is full of anticipated discoveries. The best comparison I could make would be to an August walk in a pine forest by an experienced mushroom picker …”

Marianna Placáková


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