Dialogue with Conceptual Artist Kateřina Šedá

So they flew you in yesterday, huh? You came straight to the party then; that must’ve been exhausting. But you got to have a party – parties go together with artists, with visual artists especially, don’t you think? I guess you could say the same about musicians. And Hemingway.
I saw your work, your piece, this morning, when you were putting it up. Mine’s over there. We’re like neighbors. Mine’s kinda small-looking next to yours. Just kidding. I love yours. It’s just great, it’s a great idea.
You look a little Nordic, any ancestors over there?
That was a dumb question, pardon me.
You really flew in from that small village? Of course, from the airport in Prague. But you live in that village. And your grandma as well. How many kilometers? That’s what – about 70 miles from Brno? No, I’ve never been to Brno. Never been to Czech Republic, actually. Would love to go.
But so tell me – your piece, the whole thing up on the wall here, what is it exactly? All these drawings of screw drivers, nail sets, what’s that – ah – pliers. And a rake. Cute.
I see: items from a hardware store your grandma used to work in. She worked there for over 30 years? That’s a long time.
Yea, they’re great. Very… whimsical. Whimsical? It’s like eccentric, interesting in a cute way. How old is your grandma? The drawings are pretty good for a seventy-nine year old. Naïve – yes, but quite accurate.
It’s not about the actual drawings, is it? I imagine it’s more conceptual. The concept being saving your grandma from death?
Sorry, that didn’t come out right. It is what I heard though; I saw an article about it. You get a lot of media coverage, I have to say. Mostly indie magazines though?
No, I didn’t read the whole thing. It was a crazy time; I was in the middle of a project and everything kinda –. Nevermind.
Your grandma was depressed, that’s how it started. Sorry about your grandpa by the way. She was depressed and you decided you needed to make her do something. She wasn’t doing anything? Something besides gazing at the TV. What did she say when you came up with the idea? Or, like, how did you approach her?
All items – you asked her to recollect all the items she used to sell at the hardware store. Man, I can’t imagine I’d be able to remember all that shit. And I’m only 25.
Wait, so she in fact did come up with all the stuff! And then you asked her to draw it out. It’s a brilliant idea. Your family must be really proud of you. You know, that you invested so much time into this. Into your grandma. It shows how much you care. And it gives the whole project a social spin.
Yea, definitely.

I’m just wondering how you motivated her.
Of course I want to watch the video. Is that part of the exhibit?
I thought so.

Ha-ha, you’re kind of yelling at her here. You’re a stern supervisor, aren’t you.
This tells a lot about the process – about our work – how strict the regimen needs to be, no matter how expressionistic the artwork. That’s a great point.
‘What is this grandma? Name the object you’re drawing. And why are you drawing it like that?’ Phew, I wouldn’t wanna be depressed on your watch, girl!
But it did help her, didn’t it. Did she finally come out of the inertia?
Inertia? That’s like when you don’t care about anything. The state your grandma was in before you started your project.
She looks like she doesn’t care about this stuff at all. It almost gives you the impression she’s suffering. Did you make her do it every day? On the hour?
Six hundred drawings. Oh-my-fucking-god.
Look at the shaky captions.
She does it so mechanically. It looks like she’s only doing it because you’re forcing her. I know, I know. That’s probably the only option. Obviously, she wasn’t going to snap out of her depression after one session. But it does seem a little brutal.
With all due respect.
I saw your other works, and this is… It’s very different. I have to say I almost feel sorry about the poor thing. Just lost her husband, for chrissake.
How did it make you feel? Was it weird when she said that in the interview? When she said that the only things that fill her life are the TV and her dog?
Hm.
She keeps saying ‘Toh ye yenno.’ What does that mean?
And can I ask you something? When did you decide you wanted to make this into an artwork? I guess what I’m asking is: Have you thought about her first or last? I’m sorry, not last – second.
Maybe it’s not a legitimate art question. I’m definitely not trying to undermine your intentions, believe me. Just, you know, being curious.
What did you say?
‘It doesn’t matter?’
Is that what she’s saying or what you’re saying?

(The Slovak version of the short story Dialogue with Conceptual Artist Katerina Seda was published in the latest issue of the urban magazine VLNA, Retro. // Slovenská verzia poviedky vyšla pod názvom Rozhovor s konceptualistkou Kateřinou Šedou, The New Museum, NY v splietacom urbánnom magazíne VLNA, v aktuálnom čísle Retro.)

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