Kateřina Šedá: “Slavutych into the Book of World Records”

Brno–Střet projectIn Czech, 'střet' means clash and is pronounced the same as 'střed', which means center. Photo: Kateřina Šedá

Kateřina Šedá doesn’t make her works for the art world. This spring her Tram Buskers’ Tour brought street musicians to Helsinki to play on the city’s tram network, to the delight of their fellow passengers. Everyday journeys went off in new directions.

Her current projects aren’t for museums or gallery exhibitions either. This summer her intention is to get a Ukrainian town into the Guinness Book of Records, and later in the autumn she will be organising a street party in the suburbs of Paris.

Made in Slavutych: the people of Slavutych pull together

The artist is currently working with the residents of the city of Slavutych in Ukraine. ”Slavutych was built between 1986 and 1988 for the inhabitants of Pripyat, which was evacuated in 1986 after the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl”, says Šedá. “In Slavutych, I decided to do something that might at first glance seem bizarre – to get the town into the Guinness Book of World Records in whatever way the inhabitants choose. It will be a collective activity to bring the entire town together, so we have a tough road ahead of us.”

An alternative guide to architecture and a street party in the suburbs of Paris

Šedá also has projects going on in her home country, the Czech Republic. ”Together with a group of teenagers I will create a guidebook for a complicated part of central Brno. We would like to present each of the 600 buildings in the area in a different way. For example, one building will be presented through residents’ narratives, another through its history, another through its flora and fauna, and another through an interesting architectural element. In this way, a very special guidebook will come together – one which, thanks to its form, will erase the differences between the majority of the inhabitants and the Roma minority, and it will encourage visitors to look at things they might not normally see.”

The artist will spend the autumn in the northern suburbs of Paris as Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers’ artist in residence. ”I had never heard of Aubervilliers before I went to France. When I first arrived there, what most surprised me during my research was the omnipresent hopelessness. Most people gave me the feeling that they hadn’t chosen to live there, that something, or someone, had brought them there, not of their own accord. I realized that the two biggest problems the locals had were a lack of hope that their plight might improve significantly, but equally the lack of another, immensely important thing: a sense that they belonged there”, Šedá tells about her first impressions of the place.

“I often even overheard people say that the best thing about the place was the presence of a Paris metro station and therefore the possibility of quickly getting away from the place. With my project I’d like to try to change this state of affairs. During my three-month stay I will implement the first part of a project in Aubervilliers that will culminate in a non-traditional pavement celebration – it will be a permanent, material implementation on the main street of Aubervilliers. There’s a Japanese proverb that says that ‘the capital is where you live.”’

Read more about the Made in Slavutych project here (in Russian) and the Brno–Střet project here.

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