Magazine article Artforum International

Katerina Seda: Renaissance Society

Magazine article Artforum International

Katerina Seda: Renaissance Society

Article excerpt

After thirty-three years spent supervising inventory in a state-run home-supplies store in Brno, Czech Republic, Jana Seda (1930-2007) retired and began to drift into a diminished old age. Widowed and living with her son and his family, she withdrew into asocial immobility, oversleeping, rarely speaking, and spending most of her waking hours watching TV. Her granddaughter, Czech artist Katerina Seda, began interviewing Jana regularly about her past and eventually cajoled her into making drawings of the hundreds of items she used to keep on the shelves of the store.

More than five hundred of the six hundred drawings that the grandmother created, beginning in 2005, were displayed in Seda's recent exhibition titled "It Doesn't Matter," the translation of Je to jedno, Jana's verbal response to virtually every inquiry. Almost every drawing is the same size, all are done with a black felt-tip pen (two drawings have touches of color pencil), and, except for a few introductory sheets that list objects in a kind of index or inventory, each has the name of the item written (in Czech, of course) accompanied by a rather perfunctory drawing of that object, often in the multiple sizes the store carried.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The project seems to drift uneasily among the realms of art therapy, social practice, self-taught art, and family chronicle. A five-minute video accompanying the exhibition illustrates the rather coercive and hectoring nature of Katerina's intervention--her grandmother clearly would have preferred to be left alone, or at least to do as little drawing as possible, and responds somewhat reluctantly to her granddaughter's prodding. …

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