The UMPRUM lesson
Coffee from the vending machine. The doors beeping at the reception. A strange odor from discarded materials at the back entrance. UMPRUM is a living organism. Is this what it is like in its bowels? The book was created during the admission procedure to the master's degree program in the studio of illustration and graphics. The task was to create a detective story. The UMPRUM lesson is an attempt to capture the genius loci of a place where we spend so much time that it begins to coalesce with us.
It's Wednesday 13.11. 2019, 21.36.
Chinese tourists already have enough sights throughout the day and are searching through Tripadvisor, where they could have the best typical Czech food.
Design students from UMPRUM are heading to the subway.
“I am still missing the exam with Chamonikola.”
“I see. I heard he didn't teach here anymore…”
The student returns from Žabka. He was there to buy dinner. He walks past the gatehouse. The school closes at ten. A leaflet forced on him by a guy on the street was crumpled into his pocket.
Tonight will probably be a long night. There are consultations tomorrow and the student needs to make some progress on his Project. Thinking about it, his throat tightens with anxiety. The bread roll cannot be chewed.
At ten he turns off the light, turns off the music, and continues working in the dark. It has to be done, sometimes the doorman not only goes around the studios, but he even leaves the school and looks at the windows from outside to find out which studio is still lit.
After a while, there indeed are steps coming closer along the corridor. The clinking of keys. He knocks on the studio door. Then one more time.
He listens for a moment. The student waits quietly. The steps move away.
The student returns to work. Oh boy, He would rather wrap it up and go home.
He could break his teeth on that bread roll. He drank too much beer and now he needs to go to the bathroom.
Hopefully, the coast is clear in the hallway.
The student hurries. Clap, clap. He is coming back! He runs to the toilets, hides, and locks himself there. But it's too late for this strategy now. It'll be better to act stupid.
„Don't you know what time it is?“
„Look, if there is a fire, I don't even know how many people are in the building when you're hiding somewhere. And then it would be my fault.“
„I'm sorry, I lost track of time. I'm going.“
Great, now the doorman is watching him to see if he's really gone. The student knows that at home he will no longer be forced to sit down for the Project. He'll have to come up with something for tomorrow. He probably won't show up.
But it's weird. Mr. Zehnal ... The doorman ... He doesn't work here anymore. He no longer works anywhere. He reportedly turned green and died last semester.
The student runs to the reception to see who he saw.
There is no one in the gatehouse. Just a half-eaten bread roll and a security camera screen. The student peeks and looks for clues that would dispel his suspicion that a ghost is guarding the school today.
There was a rumble in the hallway. An annoying metal sound.
The cameras captured some movement in the hallway on the ground floor.
The student is considering a run, but he forgot his card upstairs in the studio, so he runs straight towards the danger.
But the hallway is peaceful and quiet. The cart is parked in its usual place, tied with a chain. A bright glow emanating from the backyard catches his attention.
It seems that someone is in the sauna, which remained in the yard after Artsemester. Maybe it's a little late for that, isn't it? The student heads to the bookshop, which leads to the yard.
But from here it looks like no one is there either. The dance conservatory is shrouded in darkness, UMPRUM is silent. The sky is golden purple, as always in Prague. The silence is cut by the sound of the elevator. beep beep.
Someone called the elevator.
The elevator door opens and waits for the student to board. OK, he will go upstairs, pick up his things in the studio and get out of there.
The elevator door closes. It does not wait for the student to choose which floor they will go to, it will start going right away. The student has to cover his ears. It is noisy as it starts to move. It's a batter and a bang, a screech and a creak, a clatter, and a squeal.
Tdtdtdtdtdtdtdtdtdtdtd bambambam dddddddddd wheeeey wheeeey, mechanisms moan, machines work, rollers roll, metals grind against each other. The symphony of the machines is competing with the cacophony of The Plastic People of the Universe. The student is anxious, there is not enough space in the elevator. The esophagus of the school narrows swallows and returns its food. Is it going too fast or too slow? Uggghhh uggghhh tdtdtdtdtdtd ayyyayyyyy grgrgrgrgrgr.
The student is wishing for it to be over. Which floor is it?
The elevator spits him out into the hallway. The student is shaking. The racket has stopped. It's quiet. No. Click ... click ... click... He has to stretch his ears, rhythmically click, a clap sound from around the corner, or from somewhere further. From Lucie's workshop. Click ... click ... click... Locked. Suddenly, the student feels compelled to dig in his pocket.
A flyer from the guy in front of the school. So he tries the other one. Bread roll. Yes, it seems hard. He unlocks and the door flies open with a draft.
Click ... click ... click... The risograph keeps spewing pages. The risograph shoots them into the air one by one. White birds. Pigeons from nets in a skylight.. Click ... click ... click...
The student must catch all of them. One, the second, and the first, all of them! It must be complete. Fast. He's already downstairs. Click ... click … Done.
The student is pleasantly warm. He lays down slowly into a soft mat. Eighteen, nineteen, ... He's counting the pages. How tired he was! He doesn't want anything anymore.
"Good morning, you were that hungry?"
He wakes up in a basement corridor. The lady from the buffet turns the lights on a little too fast.
„But I don't have anything yet. Yesterday they even ate the cake that I had prepared for today.“
The student picks himself up from the ground and shakes off some of yesterday's dirt. Checks a stack of papers. Good, nothing is missing.
„So I'll make you eggs, they'll be done right away. Do you want onion or ham in it?“
„Onion. And bread, please.“
He is eating and feels a little lightheaded. He probably needs some coffee as well.
The first coffee drinkers are coming.
“Wow, you have it done. I don't understand, it comes so easily to you ..”
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Barbora Satranská is a student of the Studio of Illustration and Graphics at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague. She enjoys finding things and collecting them or capturing them. She dreams of being a "freelance illustrator."