Friday, 26 November 2010

Lost in Translation

I thought I might share with you more  about what was discussed at the Lost in Translation exhibition opening, which featured the work of Czech artists and writers who live in the UK and the work of British artists and writers who live in the Czech Republic. 

The picture above is by Katia Lom who said;

I have found refuge and my own way to come to terms with this industrious city through its pockets of nature. I have come to realise that there is peace to be found amongst this bustling city and that, even within its urbanised landscape, heavens of trees and animals can be found, from an animal farm in Hackney, to the great leafy neighbourhoods of North London. These discoveries have enabled me to start feeling more settled as I have found a common ground in nature and animals.

It struck me that this attachment especially to trees is very Czech. The forest is very powerful in the Czech psyche, equivalent perhaps in its significance as the sea is to the Brits.

A number of the pictures referenced another profound influence on the Czech psyche - fairytales. In Hana Vojackova's artwork (above) the Little Red Riding Hood's forest becomes London's East End. She writes:

One feels that Little Red Riding Hood is fascinated and worried by wandering around in a scary and dangerous place; for her the scary place was the woods, for me it was the inner city at night. Both situations engender a tension between irrational fascination and the rational fear of what is new or undiscovered to us. It is a tension familiar to everybody, and one that is immortalized in the childrens story.

More pictures from the exhibition together with the artists' thoughts can currently be found in a  Facebook web album.

I have always admired the way the Czechs are able to accept the truth of fairytales. Many Brits would be embarrassed to talk about such "childish" things, we have put them away. But they are still there, hidden and hiding inside us and they still are "true". The reason Czech art is so strong is that it can see the world through them. We Brits have a lot to learn.

1 comment:

Ana said...

I think you are right, Potok. I have the same perception. Maybe Czechs' love for trees and forests and their attachment to fairy tales are closely related to their Celtic roots.
My mother used to tell me stories about the Vodník or Hastrman. There are lots of different tales about this character, but when depicted as a generous water spirit who helped poor honest people and punished the evil I found those tales to be very similar to those about King O'Donoghue my Irish granny told me.
Personally, I love those old fairy legends (including the creepy ones) and though I know they are not true... sometimes I wish they were!


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