Generat ion Installation by Rosalyn Driscoll and Tereza Stehlkov
Installation by Rosalyn Driscoll and Tereza Stehlkov
GV Art gallery, London
26 September - 5 October 2013
Every grain of wheat and every maiden contains all its descendants and all her descendants
an infinite seriesthe abyss of the nucleus.
Kerenyi and Jung, Essays on the Science of Mythology
Detail from sculptural video installation Generation, 2012
GENERATION A collaborative work by Rosalyn Driscoll and Tereza Stehlkov Published in 2013 by GV Art gallery, London 49 Chiltern Street London W1U 6LY www.gvart.co.uk Designed by Charles Gollop Publication GV Art gallery, London Essays the Authors All artworks the Artists All images the Artists, courtesy of GV Art gallery, London, except where indicated. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission of the copyright holders and publishers. VISITOR INFORMATION 49 Chiltern Street London W1U 6LY Nearest tube Baker St Tel: 020 8408 9800 Email: email@example.com
Excerpts from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 1
Generation: the installation 4
Artists Tereza Stehlkov and Rosalyn Driscoll talk to writer, Kay Syrad 6
Excerpt from The Pomegranate by Eavan Boland 14
Rosalyn Driscoll, Biography & Artist Statement 16
Tereza Stehlkov, Biography & Artist Statememt 18
Related Readings 21
List of Exhibits 22
About GV Art gallery, London 24
Excerpts from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter Translation by Helene Foley
Demeter I begin to sing, the fair-tressed awesome goddess,
herself and her slim-ankled daughter whom Hades
seized; Zeus, heavy-thundering and mighty-voiced, gave her,
without consent of Demeter of the bright fruit and golden sword,
as she played with the deep-breasted daughters of Ocean,
plucking flowers in the lush meadow
The mountain peaks and the depths of the sea echoed
in response to her divine voice, and her goddess mother heard.
Sharp grief seized her heart, and she tore the veil
on her ambrosial hair with her own hands.
She cast a dark cloak on her shoulders
and sped like a bird over dry land and sea,
For mortals she ordained a terrible and brutal year
on the deeply fertile earth. The ground released
no seed, for bright-crowned Demeter kept it buried.
In vain the oxen dragged many curved plows down
the furrows. In vain much white barley fell on the earth
At once he [Hades] urged thoughtful Persephone:
Go Persephone, to the side of your dark-robed mother,
keeping the spirit and temper in your breast benign
Then all day long, their minds at one, they soothed
each others heart and soul in many ways,
embracing fondly, and their spirits abandoned grief
the fields would soon ripple with long ears of grain;
and the rich furrows would grow heavy on the ground
with grain to be tied with bands into sheaves.
Still from In the Field video, 2012
Generation: the installation
Czech film-maker Tereza Stehlkov and American sculptor Rosalyn Driscoll merge video and
sculpture to create a haunting installation about the progression of life through generations of
women. Drawing on the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, the artists explore the fluid
exchange between conscious awareness and unconscious forces, and the contradictions be-
tween possibilities and limitations that lie at the heart of our embodied lives.
Stehlkov filmed her grandmother, mother, daughter and herself in their country house in Bo-
hemia, focusing her camera on the bonds and tensions between the generations. Driscoll's or-
ganic, translucent sculptures, made of rawhide, paper and beeswax, convey the complexities
of the mother-daughter relationships.
Stehlkovs videos are projected into Driscolls sculptures, transforming both. The projected
images animate the sculptures, while their visceral physicality reveals a hidden dimension un-
der the womens seemingly composed surfaces.
The installation fills the gallery, moving from the outer world of the house and fields, and de-
scending to the underworld, a rich, mysterious inner world, where the women seek their way,
individually and together.
Rift detail, 2013
Artists Tereza Stehlkov and Rosalyn Driscoll
talk to writer, Kay Syrad
Kay: You are both members of Sensory Sites, an international collective of artists committed to
exploring the integration of the senses in art making. Can you tell me how this concern takes
form here, in your examination of life as it progresses through generations of women?
Tereza: At the simplest level, it is a question of the body, which channels the world to us.
Having been with a partner who had long term health challenges, I was reminded over and
over how the experience of the external world either dominatesin moments of losing one's
body, where the body is in perfect harmony with the external space that envelops it, like the
experience of swimming in a beautiful warm sea where little effort is needed to stay afloator
is suppressed by the body, which in turn dominates through pain (physical or emotional),
obscuring our view of the external world, closing us down: the body an agent of so much
pleasure and so much pain.
Motherhood then is a fascinating experience on all these different sensory and sensual levels -
it is the extending of one's life into the future and the past, beyond one's individual life.
Becoming a part of this chain is itself a form of mythologizing of life, making it larger,
impersonal. This experience starts with pregnancy, where much attention is turned inward,
while birth itself is such a brutal act of separation. But as one is being drawn forward into the
new life, the more one feels connected to and in need of understanding what came before,
and one perceives this in a light that is now transformed. I thought of this very much as I was
spending the summer with my family in Bohemia, where I had the privilege of observing my
daughter, my mother and my grandmother all in the same room: my daughter playing various
games of clapping hands with her great grandmother; my grandmother, who is so full of life,
now struggling with hearing and also sight. It is a natural process of course and she has been
luckier than others. The body, as an instrument of perception, is slowly losing its sharpness and
precision. A faint veil is falling over the sensory image, making it less vivid. She is retreating,
almost imperceptibly, into some kind of interior world.
The cyclical aspect of lifethe feverish process of decay and renewal upon the point of
existence, so beautifully described by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountainis embodied in
the relationship between these women who are an integral part of my bloodline, tied closely to
me by biology that somehow transcends itself: the initial dependence and basic need is
transformed into the complexity of love, which already contains the shadow and pain of
inevitable loss. 
Roz: We chose the Demeter-Persephone story because I could see elements of it playing out
with Tereza and her daughter, mother and grandmother, as I had lived through it with my own
daughter, mother and grandmother. Now with two granddaughters by my daughter, the
successive generations of women assume mythic proportions. All these roles are embedded in
each of us, the way a woman's eggs develop in her body before she's born. Working with
Tereza, a woman my own daughter's age, allows me to re-experience these core relationships
through our collaboration and through my art, and to mythologize them.
These relationships play out in the body, as Tereza says: holding my baby in my arms,
wrestling with my teenage daughter, caressing my mother during her dying days, washing my
grandmother's body after she died. These are somatic, sensory memories. The sculptures distil
these bodily exchanges into the very place where we meetskin. Skin is both inner and outer
at the same time. When I was growing up I was taught there is a barrier between inside and
outside, the senses are separate, the mind and body are distinct, and individuals are isolated.
The second half of my life has been devoted to transcending those divisionssensorily,
somatically and artistically.
Gestating my daughter inside myself and then separating in the powerful emergence of birth, is
a positive experience of the two poles of relationship within which we live. The dynamic
movement between intimacy and distanceas we engage and withdrawcan be represented
spatially, sculpturally, as it is in this installation. The sculptures range from womb-like enclosure
to winnowing baskets that toss grain into the wind. The videos show the generations moving
apart and coming together.
Kay: How does the visualsightfit in with this tactile, physical sensibility?
Roz: When I first started making tactile art twenty years ago, I denigrated sight for its
distancing, abstracting qualities. I sought to exclude from my art any phenomena lacking tactile
dimensions, such as light, shadow, colour, transparency, mirroring. But I've come to embrace
the fullness of sight, which responds to and stimulates the somatic senses: motion, sensations,
feelings, emotions, balance, even temperature. In our installation, we fuse seeing and feeling.
We combine ephemeral, moving images with solid, corporeal sculptures. The projected,
moving light touches, enters and transforms my sculptures. The transformation of the two media
is like our collaboration, as we penetrate and transform each other's images, artistic media and
ideas. In the same way that the senses influence and augment each other, we two influence
and enrich each other's sensibilities.
Kay: And how is the sensory represented here in what you describe as the tensions between
surface and interior, world and underworld, conscious and unconscious, life and death?
Roz: Surface and interior form one of the dichotomies I seek to overcome. In these sculptures,
the skin forms both surface and interior. The shapes look like internal organs. Light lands on the
surface of the skin, but also penetrates it, the way a fetus can see light through the mother's
World and underworld is another, related dichotomy. I thought using touch in my work was a
way to reach beyond myself and more fully connect with the world, but to my surprise, touch
led me below the surface, into the underworld of the body: gut, joints, muscles. It called me to
engage with the world from my depths. Outside and inside turned inside out.
We're imagining the underworld not as the Greeks did in antiquity, as the bloodless land of
the dead, but as the unconscious as the rich, inchoate realm of internal, bodily, emotional
experience. In our installation, we've reversed the usual imagery of world and underworld
conscious and unconsciousso the world on the street level of the gallery is sepia-coloured,
even ghostly; descending the stairs into the underworld, one enters a darker, but more
textured, embodied, colourful realm. Our videos show the different generations of women
struggling to find their way in this confusing under-world.
As for life and death, the skins used in the installation connote real deaththe slaughter of a
cowbut that death has generated new life through my art. Theres another kind of life and
death as the moving images give the skin life whilst that skin presages death. The women are in
their lives, but their lives play out contained by their death. Death and life are fluid rather than
Tereza: We are very much thinking of the artistic process as a form of submergence into the
unconscious, a way of opening oneself to its mysterious influences, while at the same time
directing the flow of its impact so that something articulable can come into the light. The
descent into the underworld can then be seen as a way of entering a different, subliminal
space, where the sensory input from the external world is cut off, forcing you to turn inward,
towards the bank of your own sensory memory and imagination. Down there the world is
recreated from within. What happens there in the dark, so to speak always contains an
element of mystery, because when you return, back to the surface, your perception is different
from before: what was invisible is made visible, at least momentarily.
This thought brings me back to somebody I knew quite well who (as a boy of 15) was put into
solitary confinement in prison, with no access to daylight for about six months. From his prison
cell he described to me his first encounter with a tree when he was being moved elsewhere. I
could sense, in the intensity of his description, the vividness and the power of his experience.
The tree this boy saw was a tree intensified by his months in darkness, longing for the world.
The impression must have glowed like a beacon of organic life in his sensory deprivation. This
is how I imagine Persephone would think of a tree when first kidnapped and imprisoned in
Somebody else I know, an Arctic photographer who spends long periods of time at the North
Pole, described to me once the experience of landing, after months away on ice. He told me
the smell of earth that suddenly hit him was quite profound. The whiteness and cold can be an
equivalent of darkness a similar kind of sensory deprivation. The longing for colour,
variation, for sensory input, enhances appreciation of them on their return.
I think of these temporary absences as small rehearsals for the ultimate absence from the
phenomenal world that is the condition of organic life. Keeping this inevitable fact always
close can have the effect of heightening everyday experience. It is this painful intensity,
amongst other things, that I try to convey in my work: the world as seen from a place where
world is no longer accessible; a dream of being in the worldoften a place experienced more
vividly than the real world.
The exhibition here with Roz is a variation on the theme the jewels of memory islands
glowing in the darkness; tangible images in the skin and golden wax and paper, yet somehow
inaccessible; the women in the images moving within a liminal space of their own. There is a
ritualistic aspect to this process, which has to do with cycles of returning seasons, of
generations, of comings and goings, of greetings and goodbyes. In my collaboration with Roz,
a ritual of its own was born. Every summer the four women (my daughter, myself, my mother
and my grandmother) meet in our house in Southern Bohemia and participate in the ritual of
filming. And there is, of course, the ritual of working with Roz.
Kay Syrad, September 2013
Descent, detail, 2013
Threshold, detail, 2012
Excerpt from The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is co...