Roots Grow In
Nikola Brabcová, Veronika Čechmánková, Barbara Dayef, Tomáš Hrůza, Michal Klodner, Karel Kunc, Karin Šrubařová
Guest: Saša Spačal
Curated by Veronika Čechová a Tereza Jindrová
–Why did you choose soil as the pivotal topic of your project?
We felt the need to work with something physical and to look at the direct relationship between human beings and nature. We started with a group project called ‘Earth, Soil, Ground’ which this exhibition is a continuation and extension of. Gradually, we got to a phase in which we wanted to relate to soil as a theme in more depth, and we wanted to go in and explore it from the inside. Soil is one of the most important aspects of life on Earth, and it’s surprising how little we are aware of it in our daily lives. Therefore, we wanted to present it as a living organism, to show it in a specific way. We wanted to try to change the paradigm through which it is understood in the contemporary world.
–How did your group originate, who are its members, what do they do and what projects have the group cooperated on so far? Do you have any outside cooperating members?
The group is formed by artists who were invited to take part in the project ‘Earth, Soil, Ground’ by Prototyp Studio. They all met at various occasions in 2019, such as trips to nature, workshops and discussions on the topic of ‘soil’. The results of the project were an internet blog site and a printed publication. The residency was followed by a group performance at Etc. Gallery in Prague and, now the exhibition ‘Roots Grow In’ at Entrance Gallery. Currently, the cooperating members are Nikola Brabcová, Veronika Čechmánková, Tomáš Hrůza, Karel Kunc and Karin Šrubařová. We are all artists who aim at reflecting interventions of humans and culture into the natural landscape and who work with the notion of nature being transient.
We have invited two outside members to cooperate with us. Michal Klodner, who in his project ‘Livinglab’ explores sustainable use of technology, and a Slovenian female artist, Saša Spačal, who uses a technological interface to examine relationships between organic and mineral soil substances. She has loaned us for the purpose of this exhibition her track ‘Transversal is a loop’, a sound blend of three levels of existence of crickets and interference of humans (the life of crickets in the soil, their vulnerability towards extinction and the commodification of crickets as a tool of survival). The track is also part of the first documentary video ‘Roots Grow In #01‘ (https://youtu.be/qdQrkeU05b8).
–What particularly did you focus on in the exhibition ‘Roots Grow In,’ and what can we see in the gallery? How will the installation transform?
The whole exhibition is about the process of getting to know the soil and uncovering processes that take place in it, both naturally and with the involvement of humans. It is in a way a gradual reconstruction of our notion about soil. Our secret wish is to merge with soil to the extent that we can experience once more the feeling of a sacred encounter with earth through our newly acquired knowledge.
There are many professional opinions and information at hand, but we imagine, understand and discover quite slowly. If we can experience information, it can be transformed into experience of our bodies. We don’t know the right method or the correct form of soil. We create an imaginary world of our notion that expands in the gallery space in the form of samples of soil material, laboratory installations, performance, videos and objects that all serve as accompanying props of the whole process. First, we let the soil disappear, so it is not present. What is left of it are bare roots, naked creatures and isolated relations that we connect together step by step.
As a worm, a microorganism or a root, we enter the soil and with the help of present symptoms – seed, dust, information, energy, water, work, bones – we try to recognize and recreate it.
An important image that we try to make visible is the shape of the process as a group cooperation. We are interested in the transformative moments of our mutual decision-making, the real cooperation of all members and the creation and sharing of the mutual imagination that directly influences our work. We document the whole process and reflect on it to find new views. The process of the distribution of images is part of the exhibition.
–Does this exhibition represent the final outcome of the project devoted to soil/earth/ground, or will some other activities follow? If so, what activities?
According to how the exhibition develops, we would like to further explore the spiritual aspect of the relationship between a human being and soil in January. As far as the installation is concerned, it will most probably show through freeing the space and turning the attention towards landscape. We will also work on creating a zine in which the initial topics of the exhibition will occur, as well as accompanying information on a sustainable way of life and documentary drawings of soil and life in it, and we would like to focus all these activities on creating a printed publication. After the exhibition is over, we will reflect on the group cooperation as such. For us,the topic of soil is a question of personal approach, and we would like to focus on it further in the Prototyp Studio.
The exhibition program of Entrance Gallery is continuously supported by: Magistrát hl. města Prahy, The Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and MČ Praha 6.