Gay artist exposes Slovaks to homosexuality and gender equality

Anna Daučíková's exhibition at the SNG ends in March 2020.

Slovak artist Anna Daučíková displays her work in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava until late March 2020Slovak artist Anna Daučíková displays her work in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava until late March 2020 (Source: Juraj Starovecký)

When she was small, she imagined what it would be like if she could lie down in a tin mould and have her body grow into the shape she wanted herself to be.

It was not into the shape of her mother, a woman.

Her imagination often seized artist Anna Daučíková, who likes to be addressed as Anča, when she was a child. She did not identify with the body and the women’s intuition she had to live with.

1, 2, 3…press the button

Only later, in the nineties, was she able to turn her childhood imagination into a work of art. She has created a series of photographs, which she has entitled the “Educational Exercise”.

“I suddenly realised a glass mould could replace the tin mould I dreamt of as a child,” Daučíková said.

Soon, she began to create artworks. It took her a half-year to complete them, but the process did not end there and was often repeated.

“A cousin of mine helped me by pressing the camera button,” she added.

They also took pictures in her cousin’s darkroom. Daučíková pressed a glass plate against her body, not knowing what it would look like.

“I just needed it to feel right,” the artist claimed. “We agreed I would count to three and she would press the button.”

The whole process went on and on for six months.

More success abroad as lesbian artist

The Slovak National Gallery (SNG) has put her “Educational Exercise” and other works of hers on display, entitling the exhibition as Work in Progress: 7 situácií/7 Situations. The display in the SNG will last until March 29, 2020.

It presents Daučíková as a glassmaker, painter, photographer, performer, as well as a video creator in relation to herself and to her transformations.

This is the first time Daučíková’s complete work have been displayed in Slovakia. Until now, she has mostly exhibited abroad. Today the Slovak artist is exhibiting her works in Dublin, as well. The Irish Times even included her on its list of best exhibitions in Ireland’s capital this December.

Slovak visual art theorists have become interested in her artistic personality only recently.

The reason is quite prosaic – Anna Daučíková is one of the most important feminist and gay artists. In her works, she clearly and precisely articulates homosexuality, gender equality, the search for one’s own identity. She devotes herself to body and corporeality, as well as to expressing sexual desires.

All these topics have not yet been absorbed by the conservative Slovak society.

Born at 40

After her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (VŠVU) in the seventies, the Slovak artist moved to Moscow.

From this period of her life, visitors to the gallery can see, for instance, street photographs of Muscovite women. Juraj Bartoš inspired her to create the collection of these pictures. He is a well-known documentary photographer, who captures Bratislava and Obchodná Street, and who also immortalised the capital in pictures under communism.

Daučíková returned home in the early nineties. In Slovakia, she became a civil activist and a committed advocate of lesbian and gay rights. She also started cooperating with the cultural feminist magazine Aspekt. Feminism then became the basis of her work. She is said to have been born, as an artist, only when she turned 40.

Criticism of patriarchy

“Of course, I was not born a feminist,” she said. “I did not know about feminism for a long time, and it was only in the second half of my life when I stumbled upon this theory and women’s practice.”

It came about hand in hand with the end of the exhausted period of communism and with the opening of the country to the rest of the world, where women’s movements and women’s academic and theoretical work had a very well-built history, she continued.

Feminism, in fact, became a very important worldview to her in the early and turbulent nineties.

“It allowed me to see what had worried me before, but I could not find either a term or a shape for it – and we live under a patriarchy, which has gone on existing to date,” the artist said.

Despite changes and all the progress made, the patriarchy is still here and must be criticised, she went on.

“Because if we stop criticising it - generally speaking - our world will cease to exist,” Daučíková concluded.


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