The Most Beautiful Czech Books of 2020
Milk and Honey presents 32 interviews featuring 35 artists, art curators and parenthood activists, exploring the way parenthood affects an artist’s creative process, form and content, professional development, as well as their status within the art scene and society as a whole. It touches upon such issues as the selection
of themes and motifs, preferred tools and materials, and the artists’ values and opinions. The respondents discuss the strategies they use to combine parenthood and career, and their affiliation with art and educational institutions, as well as
personal experiences, such as pregnancy, (early) motherhood, and breastfeeding. One of the overarching themes of the book is feminism and its impact on the parental experience and child rearing.
Research for the book was conducted by the author in the years 2015–2018, as part of her post-graduate studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno University of Technology. Additional research was carried out in 2020 in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where the author heads the Studio of New Media II.
Milk and Honey utilizes feminist research methodology (Reinharz 1992), artistic research (Jobertová & Koubová 2017; Mäki 2017), a comprehensive interview method (Kaufmann 2010) and an oral history method (Charlton, Myer & Sharpless 2006) to present a wide range of personal perspectives, opinions, viewpoints and experiences of mothers and fathers who are active in the art world. Compiled into a single publication, their individual stories produce a vivid collage of various attitudes toward art, activism, and documenting and curating art within the context of parenthood and individual parental approaches. The publication is
intended as a primary source of information and material for future research rather than an analytical treatise.
The subjective approach is an important aspect of the project: the author’s research is based on her own personal experience as an artist using her own body as a creative tool, for whom motherhood is not only a private, family experience, but takes on a public, social aspect; it takes place in society, and can either conform to its expectations or defy them.
The wide range of respondents the author has chosen to include in her research reflects the feminist notion of being aware of one’s privilege and giving the floor to others in order to allow them to present their own perspectives. The book contains 32 interviews, of which one is a joint 2-person and one a joint 3-person session. The respondents include artist Darina Alster; activist and journalist Apolena Rychlíková; activist and journalist Matěj Metelec; artist and teacher Lenka Klodová; art theorist Silvie Šeborová; artist and photographer Eva Melo; artist Karin Písaříková; activist Martina Čichoňová Jahodová; art theorist Zuzana Štefková; artist Martina Růžičková; activist Kateřina Saparová; artist Kateřina Šedá; artist and teacher Viktor Takáč; artist Zdeňka Morávková; sociologist Lucie Jarkovská; artist and activist Iva Chvojková Růžičková, a.k.a. Nástřih Hráze; artist
Veronika Šrek Bromová; artist Mira Gáberová; documentary maker and activist Iva Strnadová; art theorist and teacher Tereza Stejskalová; artist and teacher Jennifer DeFelice; art curator Piotr Sikora; art theorist and curator Karina Kottová; artist and art curator Sráč Sam; teachers Tereza Hájková and Petr Pabian; artist and student Hana Chmelíková; art curator and artist Hana Janečková; journalist and writer Klára Kubíčková; artist and art curator Jakub Adamec; artist Lucia Dovičáková; Hana Němečková, Barbora Trnková and Karolína Kohoutková, artists
and photographers from the Divý tvor studio; and the author of this publication, artist and teacher Kateřina Olivová.
The author utilizes a non-hierarchical approach in the interviews, presenting the respondents with a pre-defined set of topics and letting them freely express their own thoughts on the most important issues connected with motherhood in the context of their artistic profession. The author strives to conduct comprehensive interviews, conceived as a truly two-sided dialogue where both parties share and listen equally. This has led her to broaden the scope of the interviews, from topics related to biological parenthood to various additional issues, such as adoption and foster care, queer families, the death of a child, and the situation of artists/parents in the current Covid-19 pandemic. The primary set of interviews, conducted with female respondents, is complemented by a selection of male interviewees, whose responses to the same range of presented topics offer an additional perspective.
It is worth noting that most of the respondents share a certain cultural, financial and/or social privilege; this is partially due to the structure of Czech society, but more importantly, it stems from the fact that people able to work as artists in the former post-Communist countries often come from similar circumstances. Most respondents therefore share a conventional family background. Their viewpoints are complemented by several queer artists and single mothers. It was not the author’s intent to present a representative sample of Czech society, or to choose artists from different social classes or walks of life. Instead, the respondents have been selected based on their artistic focus; their work usually focuses on motherhood, parenthood, family and childhood, and strives to stimulate and bring forth changes within society.
The publication attempts to present a cultural and historical insight into the life and work of contemporary artists and other art world personages, both in Czechia and abroad, spanning two generations of respondents born between the years 1966 and 1993.
- Photo: Hana Němečková, Bára Trnková, Karolína Kohoutková
- Book design: Terezie Štindlová, Adéla Svobodová
- Editors: Barbora Baronová, Kateřina Kadlecová
- Proofreading: Eva Vlčková
- Transcription: Marie Hvozdecká
- Resume translation: Lucie Mikolajková a Megan Bedell
- Příprava dat: Radek Typovský, Studio Marvil
- Publoshers: wo-men ve spolupráci s AVU
- Print: Helbich
- Supporters: Státní fond kultury, Ministerstvo kultury ČR, AVU, FaVU VUT and TIC gallery