My mum planned her own death. She wanted to die at the right time, as she used to say, so that no one would have to look after her. In her diary for 2002, she wrote that her main task for the year was “To die!” Fortunately, she did not manage to do this, and continued to live satisfied. On 17th January 2010, I found Mum lying in the corridor of her apartment building. She had suffered a massive stroke and half her body remained paralyzed. Her mental ability changed; she had difficulty communicating. My sister and I decided we would look after Mum at home, even though in this condition she required constant care, even though it changed both our lives fundamentally, even though it was sometimes enough to drive us mad. She remained in this condition for a total of 974 days. My days with Mum were going along and always the same. One day I bought an iPhone and had a sudden inspiration to use it to take ordinary, everyday pictures of her. She liked the idea. Taking the photos was interesting for both of us and it was a means of communication. More or less regularly, I photographed Mum. In the photographs I was searching our relationship with each other, changes in expressions, fear or joy in Mum’s eyes. And I discovered slow physical changes, natural aging, but also sudden reversal, when she got worse. The photographed situations apparently were always the same: the limited space of her bedroom, the occasional necessary stay in hospital, the rare summer stay in the countryside. I travelled with my mother on her journey. During this journey I too was getting older. Mum died on 17th September 2012. I took the last photograph of her on the eve of her death.
Moving through my rooms. The peace, harmony and quiet hours in my atelier ...
Demiurgs (the work in progress). It's not just the life you have, it's what you make of it. Like the Demiurges, gods who were creative forces, fashioning the material world out of chaos, the demiurges of my collection are the designers of their own spheres. They are people who have little money and poor health and whose worlds seem to be falling to pieces. They live somewhat oddly: smoking in bed surrounded by piles of books, collecting stones, creating psychedelic nooks in their dwellings, and rarely fitting in according to common norms. They seem to have gotten lost somewhere, but they actually travel through life according to their own precise and unmistakable maps. Their worlds may at first appear to be chaotic, but you will see there is a strict inner order.
Roma Settlement, Levoca. I have come back. My last visit here was 20 years ago. I sit in the kitchen of Anna Kokyová (84) opposite a shabby mirror in which the clock runs backwards. “Chav! Besav! Pijav!” “Eat! Sit! Drink!” she keeps on saying, and I have my fifth cup of coffee and sixth glass of juice. There is no money in the house and the coffee was brought in by the neighbors. Nevertheless, she won’t take money from me, and the groceries that I brought are only grudgingly accepted. Outside, a crowd gathers. Everyone wants to see the photos I have brought and they want to have new ones taken as well. Mothers with children all dolled up, young girls in disco outfits. They’ve become poor but their dresses have remained important to them. It takes a long time before I am done with all the photo taking, what with all the kids pushing their faces forward to be in every picture. The third day I am no longer the carnival attraction and can freely explore the place.
Step by step I permeate into the private life of the Gypsises (Roma) families, first in Prague, and later also in Eastern Slovakia.
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