207 Gallery, Prague, 7. 4.–14. 4. 2014
Mother – body – machine: Some comments on the video by Daniela Baráčková Pičus
The new work from Daniela Baráčková is at first sight different from her previous videos. The context of the location has been removed. The only thing the viewer can see is a wooden cradle (the author used this attribute in the last video “Folk museum”) and in it the artist, monotonously swaying from right to left; nothing else–white, emptiness … There is a desire for peace and a repressed aggression concentrated in the bizarre behaviour of a mother who takes the place of (her?) child. The cradle is a place of rest and sleep and symbolically refers to birth and early existence (hence the often used phrase “cradle of civilization”). An unpleasant knocking sound accompanied with the swift transformation of the cradle into a machine executing programmed tasks like the artist herself, on whose face smug smile replaces a look of frustration. Woman integrated in the cradle loses her identity: aware of the society imperative “to be a perfect mother” she routinely performs the same activities (but with love) over and over again, until finally she loses herself. She is an automaton that stepped out of The mechanical ballet by Fernand Léger: body-machine.
Daniela named her exhibition Pičus. An insult, which is directed at men, it may seem unnecessary and perhaps even too direct. But by using this word the author also draws the male audience into her “games” and the identification of women and cradle acquires even more significance. Woman IS the birthplace of life – it IS the cradle, but also the vagina, womb … Pičus is not just about motherhood. It also touches on the theme of how female genitalia are degraded in society, the scribbles that appear on school benches, as well as in public restrooms, and how this humiliation affects the lives and the work of those who are their “owners”.
On the invitation to the exhibition there is a photo of a cradle in Daniela’s studio. As to the question of how (and whether to attempt) to combine work with motherhood, which sooner or later most women ask themselves, this “still life” is as eloquent as a video. As for that matter, the artist asks: “It is possible that a woman discovers the urgency of emancipation when she is confronted with the reality of motherhood combined with the reality of attributed [gender] roles, which means that her motivation and chance to freely and equally engage artistically is minimized?