"It Doesn't Matter", 2008
"My grandmother Jana (b. 1930) has been a main topic of discussion for our family over the past five years. Despite leading an active life, she decided to become completely inactive upon retirement. [...] She'll only get up from her bed for lunch, which my mother would bring to her. She doesn't like to get dressed or wash (she often reminds us that she's never been fond of water). She doesn't cook because she doesn't like the taste of her cooking and doesn't clean because she claims there's no mess to clean up. She won't go for a walk or go shopping simply because she doesn't feel like it. Her favourite member of the household has become the television, which she is fully capable of watching the whole week without a break. She only watches NOVA because apparently it's the button she locates the easiest on the remote control. "It doesn't matter". That's the answer she gives to most of our questions. [...] This is what inspired me to try to get her to do something, which could also open new discussions for us..." (Kateřina Šedá).
This was the beginning of the displayed project by the Czech artist Kateřina Šedá, who decided to reawaken her grandmother's interest in life. During almost daily sittings, under her granddaughter's guidance, she would sketch products from the inventory of the household shop in which she worked from 1950 to 1983, remembering the stock and prices of over 650 things sold there. These sittings are truly a ritual of care and love that are united in the step one takes towards the "Other", outside the limitations of one's "self". Martin Heidegger denoted care as "unevenness to the self", and Alain Badiou spoke of love as a world that is experienced from "the point of view of Two". An important aspect to the relationship of these two categories is that both love and care are a part of everyday life, if not even routine, and play out in time, which returns us to the ritual put in place by Kateřina Šedá.
"Her Mistress's Everything", 2008
This work by Kateřina Šedá is in a way a continuation of the neighboring project "It Doesn't Matter", whose heroine was the artist's grandmother. However, "Her Mistress's Everything" was created after the death of the grandmother and its main character became her dog, a German Shepherd called Ajda. After the death of its mistress the artist's parents tried to ease the dog's anguish by keeping up the daily habits that used to be a part of its life. They would turn on TV channels and radio stations that it was used to, leave the lights on, open the windows in summer and keep the home heated in winter. The reproduction of the rituals that accompany a relationship, which consists of the habits of living together, does not have the ability to fill the void created by the absence of a loved one, but it reveals the role that rituals have in relationships. The American political philosopher and literary theorist Michael Hardt sees rituals as the basis of love and finds the confirmation of his thought in the works of Jean Genet. The French writer speaks of love ceremony as "a mechanism for prolonging and repeating encounters", which gives new rhythm to time. Love is a ritual or a series of habits by which we return to people and things keep their mystery, in contrast to regular repetition. Following Genet Hardt concludes: "Love conceived of as a ceremonial is thus an institution in the sense that it allows you to return to, prolong, and link together in sequence the encounters you desire. (...) ...in fact, love can only live as an institution, a sequence of ceremonial returns."