Exclusive interview with Ztohoven art-group
2011-01-28, 0:33:00 • English
Ztohoven: Things can change!
(Jana Kománková, Proti šedi, 26th January, 2011, 12.38PM)
The situation around art group Ztohoven has turned oppressive again. The gentlemen have received a complaint. The artists vomit. Read our interview. Carefully, to the very bottom.
Would you introduce Ztohoven briefly?
Sometimes we are introduced as a guerrilla group, but such groups usually have a hierarchical structure. We are rather a platform of several people who work together on a particular project. Many different people have been involved in the group already; recently there are some 12 people or more who are participating indirectly. We have no leader and we function on the principle of half-directed improvisation. In the beginning we have no idea how the project is going to turn out. We derive from interaction among us and interaction between us and the surrounding reality. The more people the more ideas.
What did you do so far?
We did four projects, it all started in 2003. The first ones were Question mark above the Prague Castle and Raped Subconsciousness, which was an occupation of citylights in the metro. The Media Reality followed, we imitated an explosion on live television. The recent project is Citizen K. The individual projects are not independent, however. Each project arises from a set of questions that the previous one exposed.
We were anonymous in the beginning of Citizen K, nobody knew who we were. But since we were already prosecuted because of the previous project, Media reality, we were bugged by the police and our identity has been revealed. That’s how we came to the topic of snooping.
Could you tell us more about your initial projects?
The question mark above the Castle was back in 2003. It was in the last months of Havel in the presidential office and there was a neon heart hanging above the Castle. We felt that a question mark would much better express those times, so we covered half of the heart. The cops came and wanted to intervene, but in that moment, Dostal, the former minister of culture, happened to be walking by and he started asking what was going on. Then he called Havel directly and asked him about his opinion. Havel said that if this was supposed to spark a reason for a general discussion about the nature of the public sphere, then it’s ok.
Back then we were not calling ourselves Ztohoven yet. The media resonance was quite impressive however, so we came out with a name Ztohoven and started thinking about a new project. The question mark became typical for us – it’s contained in everything we do, even though sometimes not explicitly.
In Britain, for example, the topic of cameras spying on you from every corner became much discussed lately. Do you find important what is going on abroad in this field?
Our activities are local and their impulse is coming out from what we find annoying around here. We do not follow things that other people do. We are concerned with the specific conditions of this country. Afterwards, we began to find out that people in other countries are concerned with the same stuff as we are.
It is not only about art. While working on Citizen K we found out thatmany people were concerned with the same things, people such as Kafka, Zamjatin, Čapek... They do not inspire us, though.
Why do you think it is important not to be known by your names?
We do not want to become celebrities. Only a few people know who we actually are, even though they know us personally. We do not want to be known in the media, we want our projects to be pure and distinctive. We believe the message of the project itself is the most crucial part of it and we prefer this to relating our work to someone or something famous.
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