WE MAY DIE OF INTOXICATION,
BUT SURE WE KILLED ALL GREY!
A PROJEKT FOR HRADEBNÍ STREET IN ČESKÝ KRUMLOV, 2015-2018
In 2015 I was approached by Mrs. Hana Jirmusová – Lazarowitz, director of a renowned art gallery Egon Schiele Art Centrum for the first time to come for a one month residency in Český Krumlov. It was an opportunity to create street-art murals for Hradební street, adjoining the back tract of the gallery. I choose the topic of tourism in Český Krumlov, and also how we present ourselves on social media. I have noticed, that almost everyone – including me – pretends on social media to have a more colorful, joyful and overall more interesting life than what they really live.
I came to Český Krumlov repeatedly for exploration visits, tracking tourists making selfies on different spots, and I was especially interested in the moment when their faces shine in order to present how joyous and fulfilled they are on their vacation. I was particularly captivated by a middle-aged man. He sported a huge leather jacket and seemed really depressed and lonely. Nevertheless, while taking each of his selfies, he’d smile and for a second he’s seem happy. Another of my objects of interest was a middle-aged couple (I labeled them Troglodyts for myself), that wouldn’t communicate with each other for the whole duration of their walk through the city. They both we only with their phones. One could perceive a sense of distance, estrangement and sadness in their relationship, which I hopefully managed to capture in their double-portrait.
Using the pictures I made during my explorations I created portraits of people making selfies and glued them on wall on the spots where I met them and added with a commentary in english. In some of the locations a funny feedback loop started to emerge then, as other tourists would come and make selfies with my portraits of people making selfies, some kind of a multiplicated selife. My projects aim was not to judge or moralize, though. I was interested more in the questions of how we adjust and present our lives in contrast with how we actually live them.
INSPECTOR VEVERKA, A DETECTIVE CITY GAME
Street-art comics Inspector Veverka was an interactive city game, a comics spread to nine different locations in three city quarters. Each spot contained clues pointing to the location of the next one, the readers therefore traveled from one to another in order to read it. The story was inspired by a detective stories cliché: a body of a young woman is found and the inspector is called in to investigate. (It is revealed later that the girl’s name is “Prague Street “). An investigation ensues, during which the clumsy inspector with notable front teeth (whose name in Czech means “squirrel”) tracks the culprit. He finds out that the places where the investigation takes him and the readers alike, for a pattern on a map: initials of a grafiti artist named Toy Boy, written over several city district. In the end inspector finds out that had been mislead to arrest an innocent person. It was Toy Boy who murdered the girl who went by the name “Prague Street”, the identity of the killer was hidden in other two letters: M and Y (forming the word “my”, which means “we”).
As it was written in the last frame of the comics:
“_ _ they had killed not only one street, but the whole city,” read the inspector on one of the ribbons. ” Because we say, that street-art is dead. Because we sold it.” Inspector turned the map 90 degrees. He covered one of the lines in the letter B and got shivers running through his spine. A name the true killer emerged. Also two letters: WE “We killed not only one street,” inspector read the words again and again. “We killed her. We killed the Prague street. We, us all… “
STREETART DEPO GALLERY, 2017
During the time I lived in the Prague’s district of Libeň, in the Pod Labuťkou street, I began helping the homeless with my boyfriend and a friend. During a particularly tough winter, while I could see from my window right under a bridge where they lived, we started cooking several times a week, prepare the meals for them and collect warm clothes. During our visits while we distributed the food, I got to know them better and observe their way of life on the street. I have depicted this topic in a form of streetart and comics for DEPO gallery in Pilsen as a part of the exhibition Nomads (curated by Radek Wohlmuth). I told the story of two homeless people, Peter and Maria, who had been a couple in the time when we had helped them. They told me their story. I was interested in how they ended up on the street, what ambitions they have, and what chance to get out of their situation? It was probably the first time when anybody showed an interest in their story at all. From the feedback I got from them I felt, that even the chance to tell their story is empowering them. They both spoke about their experience of being perceived by the society, basically as a garbage polluting the streets, or something you better not come in contact with. And that was my intention for the project – to make their faces so big (the biggest piece was 18 meters in diameter and it’s bottom part was situated 9 meters above the ground), that nobody will be able to ignore them anymore.
XENOFOBIE, MURALS USING STREETART TECHINQUES/ PROJECT FOR KUNSTHALLE BRATISLAVA, 2017
In response to first immigrants passing through Czech Republic on their way to Western Europe a social initiative Hlavák was formed, placing a stand in Prague’s main train station, with the aim to help these arriving people. Volunteers were immediately facing verbal attacks of the “Good Czech people”. Most of the people who worked for the initiative were women. It is a paradox that they were insulted and threatened especially by Czech islamophobic men, which present themselves on social media as women-protectors and fighters against women-rights violations in Arabic countries. The attackers were in their verbal violence very personal and the situations often verged on physical conflict. The attacks were at the same time very stereotypical: immigrants were perceived through the generalized image of “a young men with cellphones”, who came to “our Czech women”. In a series of murals, using technique I adapted from my streetart experience, I confronted some of the insults the volunteers were directed by with portraits of real people whom they’d help: a family with children, young mother with a baby, adolescent pianist and an old couple on the run.
STREETART V RÁMCI JEDNODENNÍHO SQUATOVÁNÍ DOMU V ŘEHOŘOVĚ ULICI 39
The situation in Prague persist, that empty houses are speculated with for profit while there are homeless people in the streets. One of the ways we try to point this out by is squatting. In Řehořova street has been an uninhabited space in house no. 39. In 2015 a one-day squatting festival was held there. The streetart that I put up for this one day in the Řehořova street depicts portraits of the squatters and their reasons to squat empty buildings.
THESE ARE THE FACES OF YOUR NEIGHBOURS, STREETART AT AUTOMAT SVĚT, LIBEŇ
In the heart of Prague district Libeň there is a building called Automat Svět, which many people know from the books of renowned Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. It is landmark, which used to be – and could become once again – a true centre of a whole area. Instead the city council lets it decay and get closer to it’s irreversible deterioration. It is owned by an Italian developer. In this streetart project I presented portraits of homeless people living in the neighbourhood. Situation, when people have no place to live while the speculation with empty houses goes on is in my view deeply antisocial and immoral.