De-Personalized: an interview with Veronika Drahotova
Veronika Drahotova is a challenging multimedia artist. Her latest work analyzes the process of alienation from society. Mark Fernandes caught up with her in Prague to discuss her art and life.
Veronika Drahotova says that she is not personal by nature.
Her newest work is called Ali-En-Ation. She is dressed, and painted, head-to-toe in black. With only some surface neon green higlights, she almost disappears into the photographic image, without hard lines or contours.
It could be a glimpse of who she really is, or who she just wants us to see. The lines of the person are fuzzy.
This Prague-based multimedia artist has done everything from solo art shows to curating her own Home gallery.
But after a succesful opening of her Ali-En-Ation exhibit here in Prague, Drahotova was slapped with the shock that her gallery would be closing its doors.
While music from one of her sound installations bubbled cooly underneath, Drahotova discussed her work, and how she copes with the Czech art scene.
You work with a number of mediums, is this because of your art training?
"I think it has a little to do with that. I graduated from the studio of visual communication which was run by Jiri David and it was using pretty much all different medias. It is also that I choose a certain conception or idea and then the media follows."
One of your famous works you lit up Prague Castle in many colours. Now how did that happen?
"That was probably my first and biggest thing, and nobody was really believing that it was going to come out well. I wasn't sure neither. It was a part of a big show, which was called, art in a public spaces. It was the colours of a prisma. It was a rainbow which I actually adapted as one of my symbols that I frequently use until now. Of course you can discuss all the symbolism of the rainbow. In this context it was a little bit ironic. Also it was interesting because I had no way of pratcising before so it was just one try, and it would either come out or not."
Your newest work Ali-En-Ation features more of you inside the work. Is it you most personal side?
"With this exhibition I do think I was going a bit deeper and I was saying more about myself, something I would normally not say. It has this hidden danger. I always thought of myself as being a little secretive in a sense of like when you are an artist you have to expose your life and personality and sometimes to the extent where people get naked and all that, or they expose their relationship but I never really did and I always felt extremely uncomfortable sharing who I am how I think. I did manage to shock my grandmother and mother and so that is why we had a little bit of two days of silence at home, they just didnt understand what I am up to."
Will you be taking Ali-En-Ation abroad?
"Actually right after I am going to pack this show in Futura we are going to send it straight away to Berlin for a group show in a gallery called Chromasome. And then at the end of October we are going to have a show in Japan, a group show."
This summer your Home gallery closed down. Why did it happen?
"Well it has been a really long and exhausting process. It started with Home gallery not getting a grant, and it took a lot of me trying to say things through the media and tv and using the newspapers to write articles about it. So then we conviced the Ministry of Culture to give us the grant we need. And just when I thought everything is fine and I don't have to close the gallery, which was a month ago, I recieved a letter from Prague One that we have to clear out the gallery within two weeks. So I figured against this there is nothing I can do."
So really it happened over two weeks and they told you to leave the space. There were no other options for home gallery?
"Yeah, it is pretty spooky. You would wonder, and there is a lot of thing you can wonder what is behind it. But behind the gallery there is a big hole, and in that big hole there is going to standing some huge building like Andel or Carrfoure, filled with lots of stuff that people can buy. And I just assume that this building doesn't want to have the wall of the gallery, and some people paid some other people so they could get rid of us. That is what I think."
So is there a plan to bring Home Gallery back?
"Well there has been a plan, but now that I don't have the space I cannot get the grant money, and that is pretty much where I am stuck because I have been working on Home gallery for two years, even investing my own money, and now I have to say that I have to start thinking about how to get some money for a living. I think I will probably stick with art because the gallery was so much work and it seems that people didn't appreciate it enough."
Do you feel like being in the Czech art scene can be a an alienating experience?
"I actually do feel like this when you say it. It is sometimes very alienating, even though the scene is so little and so close you can be feeling really trapped."