Edita Kubistova: Short Stories on a Long Theme
Tell us more about yourself and your practice.
I’m a photographer with a background in curating, art criticism and theory and I’m currently finishing my MA at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. I spent my last school year at a study exchange in Dublin at the National College of Art and Design, where also this series originated from. When I think of what I do, I view myself rather as a collector than a photographer. What is important to me, is the principle of fragmentation: a certain incompleteness that is key. I guess, to some extent, my work draws from the classical documentary and street photography, however, my work involves more conceptual thought. I’m interested in the urban environment, its relations towards the human subject – or vice versa. I like using analogue processes, and I put quite a big emphasis on colour. Recently, I also co-founded a new space H2, where I function as a curator, and during the past few years, I organised apartment concerts, literary readings and exhibitions under the culture platform Bez bot (which means ‘Shoeless’ in Czech).
What was your creative process for this series or for your work in general?
I usually start with a rough idea and a framework that is subsequently shaped over the combination of collecting of a great deal of material, research and a continuous revaluation (this is likely where my curatorial training shows up, I suppose). It takes quite a considerable amount of time, as well. I work very intuitively, with the principle of coincidence, continuance; as Josef Sudek used to say, I rush slowly. Walking is one of my fundamental processes.
Short Stories came into being similarly, only they started with just a thought – to attempt to somehow reflect on the feeling of alienation; the framework arrived later on. At some point, I decided to work with and perceive the project in the terms of colour theory and harmonies as something that can be easily comprehended and belongs to general human knowledge (that is, not that everybody knows Itten or Albers, but most people can recognise basic colours: blue, red etc.). Even if one feels disconnected or estranged, in colour, one always has something that communicates and makes sense of that feeling.
In the course of the research, I discovered a couple of books/essays that helped form my thoughts better: chiefly Georg Simmel’s The Metropolis and Mental Life, The Stranger and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, which I can say with confidence is one of the most important books I’ve read.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
With regards to Short Stories, apart from the already mentioned above, mainly pictures of Richard Caldicott, Brea Souders and Vesna Vrdoljak ended up on the pages of my sketchbook, and my accompanying soundtrack consisted mostly of Keaton Henson’s Romantic Works and I’m Not Your Man by Marika Hackman.
But otherwise, it continually changes. Often the sources aren't even within the visual arts. From photography for sure Saul Leiter, William Eggleston, Luigi Ghirri, Lee Friedlander, Lewis Baltz; from younger generations and recent discoveries Jason Jaworski, Thomas Albdorf, Eli Craven, Anthony Gerace and so on. I’ve always been influenced a lot by music and literature too, though.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
Not really. When I was starting taking pictures, I've been, of course, enchanted by the New York School of Photography, but I’m nearly sure everyone at least vaguely interested in photography was at some point. William Klein, Richard Avedon or Garry Winogrand are the universal heroes and only a fool wouldn’t bow his head admiringly in front of them.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
I don’t have any ideals.
What are your own opinions on modern life and the alienation within urbanism?
Well, it’s the age we’re living in; and also a natural consequence of human evolution. Georg Simmel, a sociologist who I mentioned earlier, proclaimed already at the beginning of the 20th century that one of the biggest problems in modern life flow came from the endeavour of individuals to maintain their own independence and individuality towards the powers of society; which is said to result in anxiety and loneliness. People are no longer as close to one another; we gave up thinking and living in the terms of community in favour of our inner fulfilment. When you get lost in wild Romanian mountains, and at dusk woodcutters find you, they will still offer you, without any hesitation, a roof over your head, and the next day they’d be willing to slaughter a chicken for you. When you get lost in a metropolis, no one will save you. City life has transformed the former struggle with nature for survival into a conflict between ourselves, and what we fight for is also not anymore guaranteed by nature but by a man. We are trying to prove our irreplaceability; however, precisely because we all are striving for this, we are subliminally forced to suppress, gradually, our personality or we’re left with insecurities and doubts. Albeit perhaps possibly, it’s the price we all have to pay for individuality – or at least to attain it at a certain level.
Any words for aspiring artists?
Hm, well. Hopefully, it won’t sound too corny, but I would say, in the end, and simplified, it’s all about Socratically knowing yourself and not forgetting who you are. There’s no sense in trying to pursue something you’re not interested in only because it’s voguish or because someone forces you into it. If you like kittens and feel like photographing them, then take pictures of kittens – not aquarium fish. If the things you’re working on are valid for you, they’re going to be valid for someone else too. People naturally seek things they could relate to, and the general truths aren’t as divergent actually. I think it was Tereza Zelenkova who, in an interview, compared looking at art to the moment when you visit someone and whilst they’re making you coffee in the kitchen, you glance over the book spines in their library, and then you know whether you’ll be able to connect on some kind of a deeper level, or not. This happens rarely; it’s important to realise and accept a lot of people won’t care at all about what you do, however, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Be persistent, work hard, don’t settle for less. Discuss your work, be open, nice to others and don’t take yourself too seriously. But I’m really not sure whether I’m in a position to give advice.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
Now I’m working on a photo book that should conclude this whole project entirely; it should be finished truly very soon! Plus, I shouldn’t forget of my dissertation that deals with the relationship between photography and sculpture and when a photograph can become object-based/an object image-based. I'm especially examining this on the background of American and Czechoslovak photography in the 60s and 70s.
Buy Short Stories on a Long Theme @ www.bflmpsvz.com/product/short-stories-on-the-long-theme at £20. Digital offset hand sewn and bound, kettle stitch binding.