“Nike socks in Adidas shoes”: Artist organizes national Collection of Bad Habits

Kateřina Šedá (in the middle of picture)

The leading Czech artist Kateřina Šedá has recently launched an online database where anyone can submit bad habits. The symbol of the National Collection of Bad Habits is a two-tailed Czech lion holding a mobile phone in its paw. As of this week, the database is also accessible in English, with German and Ukrainian versions soon to follow.

“She washes the dishes before she puts them in the dishwasher”; “You are in the Czech Republic, so speak Czech”; “When I eat, I put my knee under my chin.” These are just some of the “vices” posted on the online database of bad habits, created by the internationally renowned Czech conceptual artist Kateřina Šedá.

Gregor Johann Mendel | Photo: Petr Sznapka,  ČTK

The National Collection of Bad Habits is part of her project CELEJ VON, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Gregor Johann Mendel, the founder of genetics. Kateřina Šedá explains:

“I did some research and I found out there was very little awareness of who he was. Many school children thought he was a YouTuber, a footballer or an actor.

“So I started looking for something connected with genetics that anyone can relate to. And bad habits are something we encounter every day. We are constantly being admonished about where we got them from.

"I was a smoker" | Photo:  archive of Kateřina Šedá

“At the same time, Mendel, in addition to being a successful scientist, was also a heavy smoker. So it seemed to me to be a good way to bring him closer to the public.”

The database was launched early in June and to date, people have posted more than 5,000 bad habits. Originally, there were two categories: ‘my bad habit’ and ‘someone else’s bad habit’. Now, people can also submit family and national habits.

“I added that category only later, when it turned out that people had a need to say: we all do this and that. At the beginning there were all these clichés, such as Czechs are world champions in everything.

Illustrative photo: julochka,  Flickr,  CC BY-NC 2.0

“One of the most common national habit refers to combining brands, or as one boy put it: ‘Nike socks in Adidas shoes’. But also common is ‘bringing stones from abroad’.”

The National Collection of Bad Habits is also open to foreigners living in Czechia or those who have some ties to the country. Starting this week, they can submit their vices in English, with German and Ukrainian versions soon to be launched.

Photo: J.G. Mendel,  OSA  (1822-2022)

The collection was first presented last weekend at the Mendel Festival in Brno, but the project doesn’t end there. Šedá plans to eventually classify the habits into a “Mendel’s Table of Vices”:

“I would like to classify them not only according to genetics, who they are inherited from, but also according to the place of occurrence or age. On the basis of this, we would like to organise a meeting of the participants at next year’s Mendel Festival.”