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Family Bonds Mothers and Fathers, Ltd.
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Family Bonds Mothers and Fathers, Ltd.

Umělec magazine 2005/1

01.01.2005

Radek Wohlmuth | profile | en cs

Hey Dad, I’m warning you. You write something about me in an article once more, and that’s it. Joseph Heller: Good as Gold

We know each other so little and we have so many things to forgive.
Erich Maria Remarque: Shadows in Paradise

Lucie Krejčová, Lenka Klodová, Marek Rejent and Martin Péč. Four people, four artists, one group: Matky a Otcové (Mothers and Fathers). They might have combined their names like ABBA. They might have created two typical non/functioning married couples. Instead they have two more wives, two more husbands and nine children. Even though M & O, like many other groups, started its existence for pragmatic reasons, they are very different.
Parents – mothers and fathers – are those who, instead of being simple orgasm seekers (as defined by André Béjin) opted for the duplication of human by human. Or they became parents by un/lucky chance. Polish sociologist Zygmunt Baumant claims that in the post-modern era, the body is exclusively private property. Its cultivation, like tending a garden, concerns the owner only. It is probably the same with its division – multiplication into smaller I’s – children. Once you’ve decided to, you can at least get out of that schizophrenic situation of being simultaneously garden and gardener. They can, and by law even must take care of someone else. Besides they become automatically an authority for some time and don’t have to do anything to gain it, but have sex. That doesn’t sound bad at all.
Marriage means different things for different people, but basically one can say that for all concerned it is a change. Somehow you stop being yourself and willy nilly, you must get used to not being able to do anything about it. Another invasion into your privacy is the arrival of offspring. It is not necessarily a compromise, but the term major minority which M&O employ for themselves is entirely relevant, and says everything. The birth of this group has been a gesture of self-preservation. Those who understand it as a kind of a rescue organization, are correct.
The first exhibition of Mothers and Fathers was in 2001, at the Roxy club in Prague, in the universal space of NoD. It presented four individualities and wasn’t specific in any way, but was important for each of them. Still, it had one important moment. The birth of group Mothers and Fathers band which occasionally plays to this day. It’s pop music, but the lyrics speak of things to come. (... it’s not my fault, I’m your better half... it stinks, the dishes stink after two days. Who forgot to wash them again? ...The place hasn’t been tidied up, so where are you running off to again?!)
The next exhibition was totally different. Archetypal exhibits seem to be made by one hand, the individual touch has disappeared. The concept of this throughout the contraceptive exhibition wasn’t picked by chance and it was grounded on the unshaken pillars of common experience and collective consciousness. Mothers and Fathers started deriving from the intimately known space – the family “esthetics” of everyday life. As the others – they did the most natural thing. They started using as a theme the misery they live in. Suddenly, a strong and emotional theme appeared: Family life. In reality, that’s a strange mixture of love, annoyance, irony, compassion and embarrassment. Thank god there was no place left for romantics, idealization, and sentiment.
M&O found asylum in their home ground, in Jednička – the gallery of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, from which all of them graduated (from the Sculpture studio and Metal and Jewelry Studio). The title of their exhibition was simple – Mothers’ and Fathers’ Offer. It was also a signal – mainly the closing presentation, which was a 50% liquidation of other “clearance sale” exhibitions (the latest was e.g. Vladimír Kokolia: Dům umění – everything must go, winter 2004). The exhibits were like discount stores in bulk on racks, in cardboard boxes or on palettes in the middle of the gallery. It was literal, pure and programmatic. Its second run was in Olomouc (2003); the first was in the Klenová gallery (M&O bulk discount, 2002)—it even had a catalogue list with a keynote address.
We have speak of ourselves as the objects of our interest. ...Years of wakeful nights, washed dishes, lack of time and money, fear for our nearest and dearest and worries have created stratified layers, deeply ingrained deposits. We are exploiting them now. ... We watch the footprints of love encoded in the amount of dirty clothes to wash. ... We offer our “surpluses,” much concentrated derivates of a unique substance and a general experience of parenthood, and via this offer we want to enable others to enjoy this metaphysical experience by installing these objects in their space.
The address was presented as part of an exhibition of artifacts whose prototypes are easily found in huge amounts in every home – sagging bras Růžena(Rose) and Běla (White) (size 80B), Houbovka (Mushroom soup)– a set of dishes to be washed, Stará panenka (Old Doll), cast decorative objects – e.g. Otec (Father), a figure of a sleeping man in shorts, convenient for installation on a sofa, or Píseček (Sand) sealed in plastic... Objects immediately reflected lifestyle and in most cases were on the border of a peculiar design.
The strength was very obvious. It was guaranteed by a clear ready-made in the style of Duchamp, pop-art Warhol multiplication and a perfect packaging technique – distant and light reminiscence of the Bulgarian Christo. Mothers and Fathers, like their contemporary designer Maxim Velčovský, arrived at the principle that he calls re-designing. They just slightly move the form and function of things already in existence by altering the material or context. A defining principle of such work is mostly the loss of singularity.
As other groups, Mothers and Fathers mark themselves off the rest of the world and create a common task force. Most of the groups demonstrate in their name the energy, irreconcilability, determination and strength – let’s say Tvrdošíjní (The Obstinate), Tvrdohlavý (The Hard Headed), Rafani (Werewolves) and Ztohoven (Out of (sh)it). M&O seem to resign at the first sight to the avant-garde divulging of their attitude or conviction and managed with a statement of a sociological fact. But it is not an innocent or nonviolent name because mothers and fathers – the parents—always implied supervision, suppression, danger and hidden threat.
The dictionary surprisingly defines mother as a women in relation to her child and a similar description is given for the father. It is no wonder that children the omnipresent moment and fundamental category for the M&O’s worldview. They are omnipresent in their works – physically and latently. The children themselves—the particular ones—are for the Mothers and Fathers inspiration as well as material. Literally.
Considering that M&O are mainly sculptors, one might consider comparing stone and clay. Not only because of a simile to human reactions; both can destroy human easily. One can stone them to death, in the other they can drown.
The Child as material had its best representation at a residence in Krems, Austria. Under the title Child and Parent in an Art Environment, M&O opened another part of their ongoing game of life. This time, the media used was the technical picture. A child “parked” in front of an art cafe, abandoned by the entrance panel at an exhibition, stuffs himself with sweets, another child with a father spends an evening in sleeping bags, right in the middle of an exhibition.
Mothers and Fathers work with time. Their calendar evolves from the rhythm of the family, and so we can suppose that their December exhibition at the Obratník gallery in Prague would have the atmosphere of a Christmas party. Children are a changeable factor with one thing in common - they are as tactful as a hand-grenade and there is no fear that mothers and fathers will exhaust their invention in near future. Self-sufficiency might be a precondition of anarchy, but that’s really just the subject of taking care of children, which will transform into the theme of a co-existence which is inexhaustable, because hatred and boredom are timeless. We can also suppose that in time Mothers and Fathers will evolve into Grandmothers and Grandfathers. If we compare Mothers and Fathers to other groups on the Czech art scene, it is not difficult to realize that the principle of a supportive art group was elevated to another level and so they created a phenomena which is not second to a reality show.
And another thing. In their clairvoyance, Mothers and Fathers go so far that they sometimes put behind their name (and is it a name at all?) the abbreviated Ltd. This logically demonstrates that the abilities of everyone are limited. It is not only parents who have their limits. By the way, the comparison of a family and a productive, or, in this case, a creative society, is not off the mark. In life, as well as in creation, one is always exposed to the danger that the result of ones effort will be a spoilage.




01.01.2005

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