Kateřina Šedá

The principle according to which Kateřina Šedá works consists in selecting a particular field of society and a particular issue in order to initiate a playful situation, her intent being to catalyze communication via an artistic process together with small or large groups of individuals, thereby questioning and possibly altering certain patterns of behavior. The smallest social units with which she has worked have been family members, like her grandmother or her parents; larger ones have included groups like the inhabitants of a village or of a housing development. For her project Je to jedno (It Doesn’t Matter [2005–2007]), the artist persuaded her grandmother Jana Šedá—who, after a lifetime of hard work, had grown completely inactive and would respond to every request or question with a simple “It doesn’t matter”—to mobilize her memories of working for a large metal goods dealer in Brno, listing the objects she had dealt with there. The result was a pictorial shop inventory of sorts that consisted of hundreds of pages of drawing paper upon which Jana Šedá, in her very own unpracticed yet precisely characterizing strokes, had drawn countless tools and kitchen utensils—an artistic legacy of a grandmother to her granddaughter, the artist.

Šedá’s idea is based on the structural research that she conducts in order to establish her objective for each project, in the interest of subsequently having the individuals she is working with enter into a playful process of realization—with the intended effect of ultimately rendering the artist unnecessary. It is with the greatest possible commitment that Šedá sets the stage for and initially guides her participants’ activities, but she subsequently withdraws and lets things take their course. The concept according to which she accomplishes all this rests upon methods that are defined with great clarity, and it also involves exacting organization and (in most cases) highly elaborate, quasi-bureaucratic forms of implementation. For the exhibition space, these methodical steps and the processes and results that they produce are then partially abstracted and made both visible and comprehensible using diagrams, photos, texts and diverse forms of symbolization, objects, drawings, and even videos and publications; these “postproductions” also see the involvement of Šedá’s protagonists to a certain extent. The gallery space then provides the final place of communication planned by the artist as part of her participatory project. For Da ist Nichts (There is Nothing There [2003])—the title refers to villagers’ resigned characterization of their uneventful village—the artist had the villagers in question do all their daily errands like shopping, lawn mowing, cycling, etc. at the same time. This playful and utterly novel strategy led to entirely different forms of exchange, encounter and diversion. Šedá: “When everybody emerged from their houses in the morning, it was as if something indescribable had opened up. All at once, ‘everything’ was visible—and strangely enough, I wasn’t the only one to perceive it. That evening at the beer meeting, people began to share their impressions and experiences with me.”1




1 Kateřina Šedá, Nic Tam Není, There is Nothing There, catalog, Brno-Líšeň, 2005.




1977, Brno / CZ, at that time ČSSR


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