Writing Off the Walls 2022

Creativity in the age of CoVID

Brought to you by Studio Theater in Exile & Hudson Valley MOCA

The New Normal by Meghan P. Nolan

Based on Josef Bolf, The Classroom, 2009

“What’s it going to be then, eh?”

The words reverberate through the call

like a wayward ball

bouncing through a hollowed hallway.

Others may defend this as the “new normal,”

but what came before

was far from acceptable.

Those desks may have housed people


but the faces staring back at

me were as empty

as those perpetual black screens—

little black boxes

void of data— a vacant reality.

If only there was someone here to hear me.

If only there was someone here.

If only there was.

The Classroom by Maureen Dillon

Based on Josef Bolf, The Classroom, 2009

Before bed, they whisper ancestral tales

Of wolves waiting in woodland forests,

Mouths dripping with saliva and blood:

Stories reaching crescendos of fear,

Until the hunters arrive and behead the beasts.

They leave us alone in the dark, hearing

The dripping of tick, tock, drip, drop.

By midnight, we wake with a start,

To windows breaking, fires burning

And sirens wailing in the distance.

In the classroom, we wait for the teacher

Who never comes.

Each week, another desk goes empty:

Their red chairs, turned upside down,

Another chalk mark in our minds tallies those we’ve lost.

Now just the five of us,

Staring at the blank board, separated and afraid to talk.

Outside the grey smoke-clouds move off from the fires

There is a severed wolf head on my desk

Seeping blood under my chair.

I show the frightened boys,

But the others refuse to see.

Now I feel the sickness, leaking into the classroom.

They wait patiently for the teacher to return,

But now, I see how the story really ends.

Feel free to navigate through the tabs to hear the recordings/poems of The New Normal and The Classroom. All of these recordings/poems are based on Josef Bolf’s painting,
Classroom, 2009.

Bolf, Classroom, 2009
Classroom, 2009

Josef Bolf

Czech, born 1971

Classroom, 2009
Oil paint, wax and ink on canvas

68.9 x 102.4 inches

Josef Bolf (born October 7, 1971 in Prague) is
a painter living in the Check Republic. He studied at the Academy in Prague from1990–1998. In 1995 he studied at Kongsthögskolan (Stockholm) and in 1996 at the Akademie der Bildenden
Künste in Stuttgart. From 1996 to 2002 he was a member of the art group Bezhlavý jezdec.

Bolf's creations capture strange characters, often suffering, sometimes half-animal. His paintings are often considered depressed, gloomy, sad, melancholy. His ideas often stem from his childhood spent in the southern city of Prague. His figurative paintings exist against the background of a more or less realistic landscape that emphasizes the narrative.

He is part of the first generation not under the control of Communist censorship and able to have connections with foreign and western artistic scenes. Josef Bolf works in collaboration with artists Šerých, Ján Manuška and Tomáš Vanek with whom he created the artist group BJ (Bezhlavý jezdec/The Headless Knight).

His work revolves around childhood, his memories and the surrounding gloom which took over between 1968 with the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution in 1989, a period known as the Normalization period, characterized by the restoration of "Communist norms".

His work is in the following collections: 8smička, Humpolec, Czech Republic; AMC Collezione Coppola, Vicenza, Italy; Collett Prague/Munich, Czech Republic/Germany; Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, Jersey City, New Jersey; Fait Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic; Galerie Klatovy/Klenová, Czech Republic; GAVU, Cheb, Czech Republic; GHMP, Praha, Czech Republic; Hudson Valley MOCA, Peekskill, New York; Marek Collection, Brno, Czech Republic; Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic; National Gallery, Praha, Czech Republic; Olomouc Museum of Art, Czech Republic; Pudil Family Foundation, Praha, Czech Republic; and Robert Runták Collection, Olomouc, Czech Republic.

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Studio Theater in Exile

“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage