Video and installation by Johana Střížková.
My name is Johana Střížková and I’m a visual artist. I graduated from the Prague Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Miloš Šejn in the Conceptual Art Studio. During my studies I was on an internship at Cooper Union, New York and after graduation I had a residency in Mexico City. In 2016 I was nominated for the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. I work with various media such as photography, video, objects, installation, and performance. I have been living in the same apartment in Prague-Karlín since I was born.
I inherited a house from my parents; it has a basement where there is nothing but an entanglement of waste pipes, darkness, clay and moisture. One cannot stand there and access is only provided through a small entrance opening. The space is so low that once inside, one can only move when squatting or crawling.
Recently, the drainage in the house began to clog up and it was necessary to find out if the drain pipe was OK, which meant descending under the floor and finding the source of the problems. I slipped my legs and then my whole body into the opening and my head stayed just above the floor; absorbing dampness I remembered the spider I had seen the last time when I was leaning in through the opening. I realized that now it must be sitting around somewhere, watching my giant body squeezing into its kingdom. Something began to itch above my sock, but I couldn’t bend down because I was still partly wedged in the opening and afraid of sinking completely into the darkness under the floor.
I see the folk singer Jarek Nohavica watching wild horses in a meadow, and I realize that I can’t move. I feel like jumping out, but I know I have to go down. I smile, put my head under the floor, I bend down and see the meadow, Jarek and the sun. I wait for a while, getting used to the stale air. I let the beam of my torch run over construction blocks hoping that I won’t find the spider. After a moment of wandering, I find an orange tube and realize that in fact I don’t have the slightest idea what to do with it. I’d prefer to saddle a wild horse and canter it to Bauhaus for advice. I lost my fight with anxiety and jumped out of the hole. On my way up I cut myself on a nail.
I’m bleeding; I sit on the bathtub rim looking into the silent opening with an invisible spider. My parental home, derelict Bauhaus and wild horses. I think I’d rather go upstairs and download the pipe manual from the Internet.
Johana Střížková (1984) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York. In 2016 she was a finalist of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. The work of Střížková, which is centred around performance and videoperformance, as well as objects and photography, is a delicate appropriation of the physicality of man, his everyday tasks and the objects he manipulates and which surround him. The artist calls her own pure, minimal aesthetic, which portrays the (un)usual reality as a tender symbiosis of living and inanimate beings. Střížková has exhibited her work mainly in Czech independent galleries and institutions. She lives and works in Prague.