Marie Lukáčová interviewed by Edith Jeřábková
The title Moréna Rex is the key to understanding your exhibition. It sounds like the name of a female rapper and is a composite of two words evoking big themes. Moraines are glacially formed accumulations of unconsolidated debris, while the word rex has multiple associations that refer mainly to power and patriarchy, as well as to pre-democratic forms of state organisation, to empires and kingdoms. Is your aim to draw on the social imaginary of women with magical powers in order to reflect upon a specific societal transformation?
I think a lot about how to bring down entrenched institutions such as heteronormativity, capitalism and latent patriarchy, which we see all around us. I check out the possible methods, rejecting the conventional scenarios, i.e. war, brawling and revolution, and opt for more feminist strategies such as laughter or conversation. I don’t know to what extent image and video are part of these. Perhaps not intrinsically. But if they are used authentically and critically and if there are enough of them, then I believe they have potential. I’m thinking about how to break down norms gradually and secretly, so that nobody notices. And yet at the same time I want to do it in such a way that discussions take place and the changes feel right. But perhaps there really will have to be a modicum of pain. It’s difficult to say.
Moréna Rex clearly makes reference to the link between land and power, which in tur n leads to theories examining the links between the capitalist process of land enclosure and witch hunts, as discussed, for instance, by Silvia Federici in her new book Witches, Witch-hunting and Women. Federici readdresses a problem she had already dealt with in her popular book Caliban and The Witch, in which she draws on examples of witch hunts in India, Adivasi, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Central Africa, the Islamic State and Saudi Arabia in or der to show how the relations between market mechanisms and the weakening of the status of women are linked and how this leads to the destabilisation of territorial, tribal and family ties. How do you use these references? How they connect up with the economic sphere?
I own no land, so they’re not going to come after me for that… Look, I’ve been thinking about this question for one hour and 43 minutes. Before I’ve even read to the end of it, Eda starts crying from the bedroom next door. So I go to give him a cuddle and then forget what you asked. Then I return, reread it and the entire situation repeats itself. I try to keep the question in my head, but I can’t. Right now, at half past midnight, when Edos should have long been fast asleep, I’m getting frustrated. Now, there’s loads of ways of dealing with this. Sometimes I’d end up wrecking the apartment. First, I tore down the curtains and covers, then I repeatedly stabbed a wooden board so as not to actually destroy anything. But now we’re talking financial costs, so I resort to the dark arts instead. At first I did so in order to take revenge upon those who didn’t offer me their seat on public transport when I had a rucksack on my back and a baby on my belly. But that just created bad karma – my telephone fell into the toilet, the washing machine broke down, plates got smashed, and then we even caught fleas. So I’ve moved from black to white magic.
This exhibition is part of a series. It was preceded by work that was recently exhibited in both the Futura and Kostka galleries at the same time. What relationship do magic, capitalism and sexuality have in your show and what is the storyline of this rap “video-musical”, if I may appropriate your term?
The Moréna Rex story takes place in a conference room or some kind of thinking lab, where a group of people are speculating with money. They do this basically intuitively, according to some limited information, images or feelings, and they beg their cash flow to keep growing and growing. The more money they have, the more their decisions impact on the landscape or on other people. But they don’ t care. They simply keep pumping energy into forms of profit.
You often examine possible communities, communities of women. What archetypes and images of society does your generation have, or where do you yourself look for inspiration, or instance in the video exhibited here?
In the countries that used to be communist we lack images associated with feminist ideas. We think of new wave films, the women’s section of spas filled with gossip, care for our bodies and collective womanhood in contrast with the clerical, predatory and politicised world of men in the film Witchhammer or the idealised image of the socialist working woman. We also have documentaries, e.g. the images of the Milada Horaková’s trial, dissident women who put off addressing specifically women’s problems because of political repression. Or we see the individual output of women on the local and international art scene in the 1990s.
Right now I’m leading a more solitary life than I’m used to, so I’m not really in a position to speak of the collective. Even so, I think it’s really important as regards orientating yourself in a joint space, recharging your batteries and organising things. On the other hand, a group can also sap you of energy and end up having a destructive effect on its members. But the cash flow that Moréna is about is not a question pertaining to my generation more than any other. It’s more a case of the bonds no longer being so instantly traceable and visible. In the video and in my work in general I am trying to concentrate more on what value the image and video actually have. Whether they now represent something more than cash and whether cash is now superfluous because of them. Or whether feedback has taken the place of cash? I don’t know, but whatever the case things are changing and it is important not to simply abnegate responsibility for this change and hand it over to corporations. I am not looking for inequality directly in connection with the female body. Hierarchies are everywhere, in slums, rapper gangs and the authorities. I believe the most important thing is to slowly and pleasurably undermine these fuck-ups.
The reason I approached you and Jiří Žák for a duo exhibition is because of the really strong relationship to narrative both of you possess. I’m always fascinated by how your narratives influence the visual construction, i.e. the relationship between word and image. In the case of Moréna Rex I have the feeling that the story is visual from the start, but has important literary qualities and combines declarations with reflection and a documentary approach, albeit on the level of dream or a parallel imagination.
I don’t really know if there is a relationship between image and word in my work. It’s more like that I create two messages pertaining to a single feeling. I wouldn’t want these lines to complement, illustrate or react to each other. I want them simply to exist side by side.
In what way is rap an effective genre for feminist or anti-capitalist or artistic and engaged commentary and declaration?
I have no idea. It certainly seems good at making plenty of dosh. Perhaps that’s how.
Your rap seems to be deliberately non-aggressive and undermining of this macho genre. Which branch of rap do you operate in?
That’s probably because basically I’m not a natural rapper, so I guess I end up undermining the genre. I try and keep up to date with the latest developments. My models are Nicki Minaj and Dokkeytino. I’d like to be like him but better looking.
Video Morraine Rex was part of installation.