They Come for the Food, Stay for the Art

The Photo Blog
Aug. 1 2014 12:11 PM

They Come for the Food, Stay for the Art

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, has a vibrant art scene known for, as photographer Jan Caga calls it, “strong personalities.” Among them are the members of the ever-present, unstoppable Pigeon Fleet.

Anyone who frequents the various museum and exhibition openings around Brno knows the Pigeon Fleet. Composed of former arts journalists and older art lovers, its members have made a name for themselves in Brno’s art community for their unrelenting pursuit of a single goal: to “eat as much food and drink as much wine as possible.” Even before events formally begin, Caga said, they can be found at the refreshment table going at it, sometimes taking away extra helpings of free food in bags. What’s more, he said in a statement, they “do not hesitate to loudly criticize the quantity or quality of the food.“

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

Caga was photographing various museum events a few years ago when he first began noticing that despite the variety of the types of openings he was attending, all the same people seemed to be there. Initially, he was too busy photographing the events themselves to turn his camera on the Pigeon Fleet. But after observing the group for a while with “growing interest,” Caga realized he couldn’t ingnore the fascinating social phenomenon any longer.


According to Caga, the Fleet’s founder was Miroslav Holub (whose last name means pigeon in Czech), a magazine editor who, even after his magazine’s demise, continued to attend art openings “for the refreshments.” “Gradually, more people joined him and the group has grown to several dozen people. Over time, the phenomenon spread to other cities and there was probably partly a generational replacement,” Caga said.

Organizers, Caga said, are generally not happy to see members of the Pigeon Fleet at their openings because they are afraid they will consume all the refreshments. “Other attendees either ignore them or they don’t care as long as there is still something to eat,” he said.

To combat the Pigeon presence, art organizers in the city have been trying to send more targeted invites to their events, but they’ve only achieved “partial success.” Still, despite the frustration and havoc they cause, Caga said, there is surely an upside to having the Pigeon Fleet around. “The Pigeon Fleet is often very interested in the exhibited works and sometimes has lively discussions about the exhibits,” he said. “And if too few people come to an opening, well, at least the Pigeon Fleet will always be there.”

Caga’s photographs are on display as part of the exhibit, “Museum 24/7” at Kaunas Photo until Aug. 30. 

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga

From the series, "Pigeon Fleet."

Copyright Jan Caga



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.