Friday, August 10, 2012

Tereza Damcová and the Magical World of Children's Spirits

by Drew Martin
The most interesting artists are the ones who are embedded in their art and make you think not only about what they do but (more importantly) why they do it. After a year of brief correspondences with the Czech artist Tereza Damcová we finally met at the opening of Rituals and Sacred Spaces. At the show Tereza did a doll dance in front of a small crowd and was joined last minute by Peter Boyce Le Couteur who improvised and sang a melody with Tereza. The front row of enthralled children perhaps made the event read a little bit like children's theater but Tereza's work is not so simple. She is working on a Ph.D. at the Faculty of Landscape Design in Brno, with the topic of the magic garden. In 2008 she started to work on children’s playground artifacts, which were placed in a park in the historic center of Plzeň. She writes on her website:

The motive of this work is fairytale metamorphosis of a little doll, Bubačka, who in children´s eyes springs to life and transforms into flowers, animals, fairytale creatures, people and so on...I am interested in drawing, painting, performing, creating artifacts, objects and audiovisual installations. My inspiration is metamorphosis of dreaming into reality, the magical world of children´s spirits, jumping into a freezing-cold swimming pool, running around in the landscape of airports covered in snow. I am interested in fairytales, legends and authors who work with dreams.

Tereza's dolls are hand-made, with stuffed bodies, sewn costumes and ceramic heads. They all have names and are characters in a never-ending story she spins. Tereza and her friend gave me a ride to Brno after the opening. The ride lasted for several hours and was one of those here-and-now magical moments. Her friend drove her white Škoda along the winding roads of southern Czech into the night, with a full moon in front of us. I sat in the back with a laundry basket full of her dolls by my side. She spoke about a city where we had both lived, in Sudetenland. People familiar with the place typically speak of the city's factories as an eye sore but Tereza affectionately referred to them as giant sleeping dinosaurs. Her favorite doll is one that "loves everyone and everything, and everyone and everything loves him." On the back of one of the tiny jackets were a couple words I did not recognize. I asked her what they meant and she replied, "I do not know either, they are in his language, which I do not understand."