The Body, Touch and The Clay in Motion
Body, Touch, Clay, Animation, Communism, Czechoslovakia
This media work project with a complementary written component is, in part, an exploration of the intergenerational trauma of survivors of the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia, where I grew up and began my artistic journey. In my thesis, I address the subject of controlling force and the symbolism of the hand as a tool for manipulation and a force of oppression. I discuss the view of the human body linked to thing theory, like an animator’s puppet or a prop, serving the large-scale system and playing a role in it. Furthermore, I explore allegory and its importance in translating the dissent with the regime in a way that allows for creative expression while, at the same time, shielding the source of its voice from dire consequences. Using the research-creation methodology, I examine the tactility and materiality behind the artistic mediums used in stop-motion animation. I specifically focus on various kinds of clay employing the methods of puppet-making, figural modelling, set building and animating in an attempt to bridge the disconnect and deformities of communication and elicit an embodied sense through emotional response in both the artist and the viewer. In both the film and installations exhibited during my master’s project exhibition, Traces of Gestures, the repeating imagery of hands and the transformation of clay point to the struggle for free expression, censorship, and oppression under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The film, “The Dance of Malleability,” is layered with symbolism. Clay captures the traces of tactile gestures, expressions, and malleability, underlining the hand's profound relationship with the art medium. The film's narrative relays the dynamics of control as the two main characters engage in a dance of power, which, depending on one's perspective, does or does not resolve.