Anetta Mona Chişa and Lucia Tkáčová: I Perceive Language as Our Primary Production Material, the Theme and, Concurrently, Our Principal Enemy

(Born in 1975 in Nadlac, Romania; Born in 1977 in Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia)

A pair of artists collaborating since 2000, they often reflect Eastern European history, the art world, and relationships between genders, reacting to social stereotypes with irony and exaggeration. Both completed their studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia and currently live and work in Prague and Berlin.

Q: Are you able to recall when you consciously started to draw?
Anetta: Well, a really long time ago, back in my childhood, I recall that I could draw well. I always attended various competitions and courses and such. Then I went to an art high school and at that point it became apparent that the next school will likely be an art school as well. Basically I developed in this direction since I was little. There were no surprising breakthroughs or unexpected events.
Q: Did you have some interesting teacher of someone who led you at the high school?
Anetta: I entered the high school in 1990. At that time everyone was so closed, nobody was aware of things. We had one young teacher of Hungarian origin. He stimulated us quite a bit and, for example, taught us that there was such a thing as installation. “Do something,” he’d say. So we did something and looked at him questioning whether it’s an installation yet or not. We also had art history as a subject, of course, but as far as modern art, we were learning cubism, surrealism etc.
Q: And all that was back in Romania?
Anetta: All that was in Romania.
Q: And then you went to the university in...
Anetta: Bratislava.
Q: How did you decide to go to Slovakia?
Anetta: My mother is Slovak, living in Romania for generations now. In the 1990’s there started to be student exchanges through Matica slovenská and an opportunity to study in Slovakia appeared. The entrance exams were sometime in February and they did not collide with other entrance exams at all, so I told myself that I’ll give it a try, just for the heck of it. Suddenly they accepted me and I was surprised.
Q: To which studio?
Anetta: To Bartusz’s, scultpure.
Q: So what about Bartusz?
Anetta: Bartusz was super. We did the entrance exams for the department, but they assigned us only after the first year. There were three professors of sculpture and each selected students. We somehow clicked with Bartusz. I started to be very interested in contemporary art.
Mária Orišková had a course for the freshmen and my jaw just dropped when I heard of all the different things that could be art. Bodyart? What’s that for God’s sake? That someone cut themselves and someone shot themselves and that’s it? I really didn’t get it. It was cubism and cubism and suddenly someone shoots through their hand and it’s supposed to be art? Toward the end of the first year I didn’t even want to make sculptures and model busts. Most students were, of course, male, so they did big things in stone. I didn’t enjoy it at all,
so I started doing these partial-installations. Bartusz was immediately interested. He’s very keen on more subtle process-oriented things, so it was a clear choice. So, that’s my story and now Lucia.
Q: I’m glad you moderate it like this. Why don’t you tell us something about your studies and how you got to art?
Lucia: So? Should we start from the beginning?
Q: What do you recall?
Lucia: My first memory is that I was brushing my hair next to a well. But I guess that doesn’t belong here.
Q: Of course it does.
Lucia: My father is an amateur painter. He worked as an economist at the Ministry of Finance and back at home he was whipping up child-like impressionism. He sat at the balcony in Petržalka, painted landscapes, stubbed his cigarettes in a pâté can and the whole communist-era flat smelled of turpentine. When we were little, he invented “creative” games for my brother and me, he’d start drawing something and we’d have to finish it. We both competed for who would finish it in the most daredevil and unlikely way.
We had neighbors across the hall, two girls. Their father emigrated and they used to receive Otto and Quelle catalogs from him. We went to their place to look at the catalogues and competed for who will draw the best fashion. Of course, the neighbor was secretly sneaking ideas from Otto and Quelle and all I had for material was Dorka (women’s magazine). She always had better collections and mine were worse. She even had felt-tip pens and I was scraping mine with just colored pencils. That’s another memory.
I drew throughout my whole childhood, but actually I drew only princesses, because I didn’t know how to draw a man. I just knew women. I couldn’t even do animals. My dog wasn’t similar to anything. But those princesses were really good. I was able to spend two hours minutely drawing out all kinds of lace. Then nothing, complete close-down.
Later I attended an Evangelical Lyceum and it was time to decide which university to attend. I told myself that artists have an interesting lifestyle, that it will be fun. So I announced at home that I want to go to an art school. At that point, my parents signed me up with the Kubínský’s. Monika was a painter, Bohuš was a sculptor and together they were doing sort of a freewheeling Christian art. Because I knew nothing about art, it seemed so enlightened to me, they would light up a stone with laser or fill a synagogue with water. They both came in daily to prepare me. Monika taught me to draw until noon, Bohuš taught me to model after lunch. I was working for a month for eight hours a day. And, admittedly, I wasn’t very good at it. On top of it, I had no one to draw. My mom didn’t want to sit, didn’t have time and was shy. So grandma had to step in and I still value her for it today. She just came in and got undressed. So I drew grandma, thousand times over. It was strange, I never saw her naked before.
When the time came to fill out the application, I was so clueless that I didn’t even know which department I wanted to attend. Bohuš asked me where I planned to apply and I said: “I have no idea, you tell me.” He said: “Apply at graphic design, you’ll get there.” I didn’t even know what it was. I thought it was going to be perhaps some dry point.
When I was at the entry interview, the committee asked me what do I like to do most. I admitted my favorite thing is to go to discos, as if to pick up boys. And they said: “And what do you like more, when someone tries to pick you up or when you pick them up?” And I said: “Definitely when they pick me up.” Seriously, I said this during the entry interview. I have no idea why they admitted me.
Anetta: Did someone from the committee try to pick you up later?
Lucia: At the entry exam, everyone was drawing fonts and, of course, I had no idea how. So, I told myself I will work with the materials at hand. I think we were supposed to create a logo for a vegetarian restaurant. So I trimmed off two petals from a potted plant and glued them on paper. I did such collages. I simply still don’t know why they accepted
me. And then I spent four years going to a design studio.
Q: How come you lasted so long?
Lucia: Well, lasted. I baked up posters as pies, I embroidered letters and such hallucinations. And then I met Anetta.
Both: And now we’ll both talk.
Q: In unison, you rehearsed that!
Lucia: And then I met Anetta and she was my first real art teacher. She was already in the fifth year, I was in third.
Anetta: We had a rather well stocked library at school. We used to go to Vienna and I had a Romanian passport. Back then there was no Schengen or European Union, so when we went someplace for a trip, I had to go get visa. I didn’t get it every time. I was very frustrated that I can’t go anywhere. The less you can do, the more interested in
it you are.
Q: And do you remember some crucial exhibition from those times?
Lucia: I didn’t go to the exhibitions, I wasn’t interested in it at all.
Q: You went to discos.
Lucia: Right, hence, I didn’t have time.
Anetta: I saw so many things in Vienna. James Turell, a huge exhibition. Those large installations of his pulled me in almost physically. But everything was interesting to me back then.
Lucia: I remember one exhibition of Mike Kelley entitled Uncanny, that was already in the time when the two of us worked together. I still feel it as a powerful experience now. I got really drunk the night before and I went to the exhibition in such fragile state that I could barely walk. I was really sick. And everything multiplied in front of me, mummies, large hyper-realistic sculptures, concentration camp photos, cut off hands and who knows what. I think it was a good connection of timing and my momentary state, but I have the strongest experience from this exhibition that I ever had from art.
Q: Alright then, let’s move on.
Lucia: Perhaps we should say more about how we met.
Anetta: It was love at first sight.
Lucia: We had a mutual friend, Zuzana Kubisová, who brought us together. One night we were both helping Zuza complete her collection for a fashion show.
Anetta: But I knew you before. I knew there was this chick that kept walking around in mini-skirts. Lucia was such a model-type, of course I knew her.
Lucia: Well, and then, as we helped Zuza, we spent the whole night sewing on sequins. We didn’t even go to sleep, we just madly kept on sewing. And we thought we’d piss ourselves from laughing as we did it. For no good reason. We just looked at each other and rolled around laughing...
Anetta: So, of course, we agreed to get together for coffee the next day, just the two of us. And we started to go everywhere together. She was unfaithful to her best friend, I was unfaithful to my best friend. We kept going out for coffee and wine all the time.
Lucia: We also drank absinth. You don’t remember that?
Anetta: Omigod, absinth.
Lucia: The thing was, we saw the film Total Eclipse. We thought we were Verlaine and Rimbaud...
Anetta: And one time we got drunk on absinth, we came up with the scheme of how to zap the Humming Bird.
Lucia: We have to explain that, that’s important. There was this dude called Humming Bird in Bratislava who did drugs and begged for fifteen years. He was from a good family, but somehow went off the track, a punk... And that night, inspired by absinth, we thought about this sort of an “ultimate” art; that the absolute thing would be to kill this guy. We worked out all the details so well that we ended up telling ourselves: “Alright, fuck, we have to do it. This or nothing, never.” Right? And did I not stub the cigarette on my hand then?
Anetta: Look.
Lucia: You did it, ah-ha... Right, because in that film there was a scene where Verlaine told Rimbaud “If you love me, then... I don’t remember what anymore...” And we teased each other about which of us has the guts to stub a cigarette on her hand. And I totally failed, I did it a week later, on a boat.
Anetta: Geez, you’re such coward.
Lucia: Right. Anetta was just all cool about stubbing a cigarette on her own hand. The next day she had a bubble like this on it. And at the time, I was unhappily in love with one totally nonsensical character. Anett and I had a nickname for him – “Pig head.” We were together on a boat at a disco and I wanted act all tough in front of him, so I stubbed the cigarette on my hand.
Anetta: And even then he left her after two weeks.
Lucia: After two months! Alright, doesn’t matter. So, Anetta and I started to get together and talk about art. For a half-a-year, we just talked, drank and talked and drank. Then we came up with the first joint project,
Les Amies. We met once on Saturday for lunch and sat in a cafe across from the municipal house, where they performed weddings. We sat there and watched all the brides and came up with a video. We were inspired by the dolls that are put on cars dressed up like brides. So we bought ourselves a huge Barbie, which was nearly a meter twenty. I “walked” around the city with the Barbie and we did all the things that girlfriends usually do together and Anetta filmed it all. We did shots of me and Barbie sitting at a cafe, at a hairdresser, in a fitness center, in a solarium, at a disco. We even got a grant for this from Soros. We got 17,000 crowns and spent it all on ecstasy. The best fun was to think
of what George Soros sponsors.
Our second joint project was called Pičoviny (Twats). The Tatrasoft gallery where we had the exhibition had two rooms. In the first one we hung napkins that showed something that looked like watercolors or Japanese calligraphy. White tones on white. In the next room there were two videos revealing how we made the napkins. We stood in front of the camera and wiped ourselves like this with those napkins. (Shows wiping her genitals.) Then there were thoughts on what’s actually art running across the screen as well. The funny part was, that back then we had no way to edit the video and when we wanted to have a video showing for a hundred repeats of the wiping of a pussy, we had to do it hundred times in a row in front of the camera. That was the time my father came for an opening for the first time and nearly fainted. He wrote in the visitor book something in the sense that even the Roman Empire in its declining stage hasn’t seen such a thing. Two hours later they closed that exhibition...
Anetta: Was that the time he wanted to disinherit you?
Lucia: No, no, that was another time.
Anetta: That was the time you told him you will marry me?
Lucia: Wait, we’re getting ahead of the events. Then we did an exhibition in Zoe. In Bratislava, there was a clothing store named Zoe and its boss, Roman Babjak, had this great idea that they should hold exhibitions. So we eagerly signed up right away, because back then we’d sign up everywhere. They had TV sets in that clothing store where they normally showed ads and we put our Les Amies video in them. We each did a drug trip and went to the opening.
Q: I’d stay with the LSD for a moment, because I’d like to know what’s your position on this.
Anetta: We wanted to try it to see what it’s all about.
Lucia: We kept worrying about not having any hallucinations.
Anetta: But we did have a blast.
Lucia: It’s like your every cell is laughing, total fireworks. But we kept complaining that during the whole trip that its not working.
Q: No mystical ecstasy.
Lucia: Unfortunately not.
Anetta: But that’s totally alright. I don’t have a problem with it. Not that I would have the need to experiment nowadays, but I think that everyone should at least try it. It’s an experience you can’t easily describe.
Q: That’s right. So where are we now? Still in Bratislava, where you are studying?
Lucia: Over time, I really stopped enjoying it, so for two years, I left the school and worked as a secretary. From nine to five I made coffee, counted minutes and was horribly bored. At the time, I totally quit art. It was a rather dark period. I partied a lot at the time, into complete emptiness. After work I’d go to a bar. At six a.m. I’d crawl to the office, lay out a sleeping bag under the table and set the alarm for a half-an-hour before the boss showed up. I lasted two years. Then I pulled myself together somehow and told myself that, after all, I should go back to school. But I didn’t go back to design, I went to the painting department at Sikora. And that’s where I completed the school.
Anetta: At the time you were doing the Hit Gallery, when we did the Room of Their Own exhibition. That was in 2003. And then I moved to Prague.
Lucia: Yes. That exhibition was supposed to look like a feminist group exhibition and at the same time create a déjà-vu impression.
Anetta: Not a feminist, but a female exhibition.
Lucia: Looking back now, I have the feeling we did it too early. We both have seen a lot of art of this type and to us they were all tired empty forms. But people in the Slovak scene didn’t see them that way yet. Some even thought it was a seriously conceived exhibition and genuinely praised us. And we tried to make it the worst possible and as cliché as possible.
Anetta: But that was the good thing. If everything was only too ironic, too bad, then that would be worse.
Lucia: Some things in that exhibition were done so well that they even weakened the desired feeling of déjà-vu. So, maybe we did it too well,
get it?
Anetta: I’m afraid had we done it completely wrong, it would have been just a cheap joke. Many things in that exhibition resembled other works. There were shifts in them, but they referenced something that was already written in the history of female art.
Lucia: For instance drawing with menstrual blood, that’s a classic, you gotta have that. Or collected tampons and pads.
Anetta: Lots of embroidery, lots of knitting. Male objects with knitting around them.
Q: But actually, that was nice.
Anetta: Actually, that was bought by the National Gallery.
Q: And there you have it.
Lucia: I think that specifically these “well worked out” pieces undermined the overall critical view.
Q: But at the same time, looking back, it can appear in a more interesting way because it wasn’t so obvious.
Lucia: We didn’t expect that not everyone was as exhausted as we were. In Slovakia, only now are they doing exhibitions like Naked Babes.
Q: So what do you think about Naked Babes? Just give me a couple of sentences so it’s clear what that’s all about.
Anetta: What it’s all about? It sort of connects to our idea that Lucia would sit naked...
Lucia: But we didn’t have the balls for it. I was even undressed, but you wanted to stay dressed, so I told myself that we shouldn’t be like “dejeuner sur l’herbe.”
Q: But you have it divided like this. You were always more the model.
Lucia: Yeah, yeah, I was always more naked.
Anetta: Back to Naked Babes.
Lucia: Petra Hanáková went into the depositories of the Slovak National Gallery, selected all kinds of nudes and drawings showing naked women and exhibited them. Then Juráňová and Cviková made a feminist commentary to go with it, under each picture there is... I’m even ashamed to say it, how would you call it – a naked-babe hundred-act play. That’s like a conversation between a granddaughter and grandmother as they see the exhibition, which is in the form of a theatre play below the works. It’s a little bit like a time machine and the viewer must wonder about the dating of this exhibition.
Q: Exactly, and that’s horribly passé.
Lucia: Extremely. Perhaps we should have waited another ten years and then made Room of Their Own. Basically, we were making an exhibition about an exhaustion, which...
Anetta: ...which wasn’t exhausted.
Lucia: Perhaps it happened because we didn’t think locally enough. We wanted to solve a general problem and thought about something that’s happening everywhere. Actually, everywhere else.
Q: Did you make any art that would respond to the Slovak environment and gender afterwards?
Lucia: We did one more exhibition, in which we set male art into the gender context. That’s an old known thing that female art, that is art made by women, is gender art, whereas art made by men is just art.
Anetta: And with capital A on top of it.
Lucia: With a big or small, that depends on... (laughter) We simply did an exhibition that was named after grammatical paradigms of the male gender.
Q: So what was the exhibition called?
Lucia: Man Hero Ghost Machine. Normally there is “Oak” in there but we thought the Ghost fit there better. By this we delineated some categories, according to which the exhibition was divided: “Man” was the symbol of manhood, about masculinity, about sexuality. “Hero”, that’s clear – politics, war, etc. The “Ghost” or “Spirit” category was about spirituality, the universe, science. And “Machine” was about machines in any sense of that word. Then the exhibition was divided into two levels.
Anetta: We made these huge cubes, actually just the frames of cubes, with which we defined space within space. With them we created dialogs, in which we put different generations into juxtaposition. The older ones were installed inside the cubes and younger outside.
Lucia: It was actually sort of a loose continuation of the Room of Their Own exhibition.
Anetta: It was installed in the same gallery, which was also a hint that it’s the second part of the same problem.
Q: And did you thematize the Slovak context in this exhibition?
Anetta: Originally we wanted to do an international project. But we weren’t able to get the money for it. In the end we limited it to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Q: Do you know why I keep going back to it? Because it seems to me you are very cosmopolitan. You function in the European if not worldwide context, so I’d like to know whether you were interested in the local themes as well.
Anetta: We had a few minor projects, which were specifically tailored to Slovakia or the Czech Republic.
Lucia: We did four “talking” videos, in which we worked with people within the scene. In the first video, we sat in our swimsuits by the pool and normally, just the way our mouths worked, we discussed all the men from the Slovak art scene with whom we’d sleep and with whom we wouldn’t. Then we did an exhibition in the Jelení Gallery called Red Library where we took on the Czech scene and did a loose continuation in a different media. We categorized the men from the Czech scene into groups according to whether and under which conditions what we’d do them. The best category was “Anything anytime – Men who can turn me on just by looking.” The worst was “Biological necessity – Intercourse only under the threat of extinction of mankind” or “Hopeless resignation – Men I would succumb to only on a deserted island.” We also had sub categories like “Sex out of politeness” or “Make virtue of necessity – Men I’d go with for the training of increasing self esteem”, “Sex out of politeness – Men to whose courting I succumb by accident” or “Temporary insanity – Men who get me after six Mojitos”. This way we categorized the whole scene and on the invitation, we put the names of all men we mentioned. There were so many people at the opening, especially those listed there. And it was pretty tough. There was actually a note under Stratil “On principle without kissing.” It was really rough. As long as we were dividing men solely according to their physical attractiveness, even the wise, intelligent and able ended up in a group such as “Exclusively without kissing”.
Anetta: The whole point was actually to reorganize the hierarchies, which occur in society according to power. We simply did not consider it at all and created our own hierarchy where neither power nor ability...
Lucia: ...not intelligence, nor contacts...
Anetta: ...played any role. Just how the men looked.
Q: And you had to agree on that?
Lucia: Right, we had to agree.
Q: And were there any differences?
Anetta: Some yes, but not critical. We did tough negotiations: “If you give me that one, I’ll bump this one up a category” and such. We balanced it so that we’d be as objective as possible. Many women agreed with us. We had reactions from various friends who then did their own charts and hierarchies at home. The extension into life really worked out. The whole project had a much bigger power in real life, that it changed people’s behavior and their relationships.
Lucia: When we had to put an influential person into the very worst category, we told each other that it was not the best idea, but let’s put him there. We challenged each other. It was pure adrenalin.
Q: Like burning yourself with a cigarette, right?
Lucia: My heart was beating so fast before the opening, that we had to go get some whiskey for courage. This year, six years after that exhibition, I met one man who I knew only briefly before. He remembered exactly in which category he was. And immediately after that he said that it was a rather superficial work. I told him that perhaps not, given that it affected him so much.
Q: I never experienced such strong reactions to an exhibition. There were some who boasted that they will buy you those Mojitos.
Anetta: Damn, but nobody did it. Get it? We had a category “Men who will get me after six Mojitos” and nobody bought us one.
Lucia: Perhaps they didn’t like us.
Anetta: Possibly.
Lucia: In their place, I’d try it right on spot even if they weren’t my type at all. Just to see who has bigger balls.
Anetta: Jiří Ptáček, who placed the best, in the end wrote an article called “Notes from the Winner”.
Lucia: With a name like that (Czech slang word for “penis”) he could not place any lower.
Anetta: Everyone attacked him for it, asked what he promised us for this and such things. So he wrote an article where he discussed his impressions. It wasn’t the criticism of the exhibition or a review, just his feelings and reactions that he experienced.
Lucia: Making charts and hierarchies appears in multiple of our works. For example in our collection, the things we steal from galleries.
Q: Wouldn’t you know that the girls also steal? Besides provoking.
Anetta: Tease men, steal...
Q: drugs...
Lucia: We did one long-term project. We went to private galleries and stole all kinds of small things. But really small, never art or anything of a great value. We stole things like a screwdriver, a pen, a hammer, a phone.
Q: A phone? What kind of a phone?
Lucia: Well...a desk phone, land line. And a radio or a drill.
Anetta: We even stole a coffee machine.
Lucia: It was amazing when Anetta stole a neon light. She had a short green jacket on and I had a long black coat. I’m afraid, but Anetta is not. She just grabbed a stool, dismantled the light from the ceiling in the midst of normal gallery operations. I thought I’d piss myself. And then Anetta said: “Hide it.”
Anetta: And she says: “No, I’m afraid!”
Lucia: So then we had to also exchange our coats.
Anetta: And I carried the neon light outside under Lucia’s coat.
Lucia: The way we stole the coffee maker was also funny. Anetta just went ahead and opened storage room that had a horribly squeaky door. I got scared, that the gallerist who sat right around the corner will hear that horrible squeaking. So in that stress I thought of nothing else except I pulled out my phone and pretended to call, very loudly and in Slovak.
Anetta: You actually said into the phone that “Anetta is walking into
the storage room, is making some rustle, takes a coffee maker in her hand and so...”
Lucia: Yes, actually I announced it all in live broadcast!
Anetta: If that gallerist could speak Slovak...
Lucia: But he couldn’t and so we have a coffee maker.
Q: Did they catch you yet?
Lucia: Not yet.
Q: So what do you do with it all?
Lucia: We already have a whole collection that we called “A Private Collection.” That one had stormy reactions too. For example, when we exhibited it for the first time at the Vienna Art Fair, Georg Kargl, from whose gallery we stole a totally meaningless piece of crap, the kind of metal key for turning on gas, he came to our booth and stole it back. He got pulled into the game so much that when the exhibition was later installed at Christine König’s who bought it from us, he persistently kept going to her gallery and stealing his stuff back.
Anetta: So then we went to Vienna and stole all kinds of minor stuff from Kargl to have a stock so that we could replace it when he steals something. We even had some issues with Christine because of it, he actually threatened to go to the police. I’d like to know what they would tell him about it.
Lucia: We worked with the stereotype that people from Eastern Europe go, or went, mainly in the 1990’s to steal in the West. The borders opened and the Slovaks robbed Hainburg bare. We do confirm the stereotype and therefore empty it a little as well.
Q: And does your dad know that you’re stealing?
Lucia: I think he does.
Q: And did he forgive you the Twats?
Lucia: Hmm, I don’t know. He introduces me to his acquaintances as his daughter, the artist who does controversial art and the point is that he can’t even say aloud what our exhibition was called. But I think it flatters him in that small-town way.
Q: And you were never reproached for being a naughty artist?
Anetta: I’m far away from my parents, I see them once or twice a year.
Q: And you don’t talk about art?
A: They keep asking me what I do and want to see something, but I filter what I show them and what I don’t. Mom came across some of our porn and started right away with: “Oh my God, you shouldn’t be doing this.”
Q: So, together with theft and drugs we now have porn. And then that marriage of yours, we should get to that.
Lucia: Oh yes, that will be the highlight of the party. We can definitely announce that we know each other’s condition. So far, we were confessing and then we can get married.
Q: Right here? But we don’t have the national emblem.
(We watch the porn.)
Lucia: It’s always a bit strange to watch this video. Do you feel that way?
Anetta: Hmm... I’m immune already. My students put it on the Artyčok website ( is an online video-portal) and it considerably increased visitor rates.
Q: I still have the feeling that the gender theme is not entirely exhausted, despite the fact there are so many clichés. For example in your case you show how to look at things differently. It’s not simply about intimacy or the actual physicality as such, but there are other problems tied to it.
Anetta: Most of the things we do have a gender aspect, yet we don’t work with it directly and it’s not just about that. That’s the old and out-of-date way of doing gender art. Our point of view is always also a gender point-of-view but it doesn’t have to scream.
Lucia: I think that because we work together, we have a certain filter. Since we didn’t achieve telepathy yet, we still have to tell each other everything first. That creates a screen through which acceptable things to both of us can flow. Personal, intimate levels transfer to something more general. Because we are dependent on the word, on an endless dialog, many of the things we’re resolving are about language, about the text and the translation.
Anetta: I see language as our primary production material, a theme and, concurrently, our principal enemy. We try to get as close as possible to each other and words stick between us like a fence. So we try to destroy them. Disarm them. We discuss everything, record everything. We have many notes and ideas, especially bad ones.
Q: When you have some retrospective, you can only exhibit the bad ideas.
Lucia: Yeah, yeah, we wanted to do an exhibition of bad ideas a million times, but so far there wasn’t a good, or actually sufficiently bad opportunity.
Q: So your working process is such that you get together and open your note books.
Lucia: Well, first we need to meet. For that we need a couch. For us, it’s really the most important thing for producing art: a couch or comfortable seating, because we spend hours sitting, sometimes even eight hours in a row. We sit and look at each other.
Anetta: The person I observed the most in my life is Lucia. We look at each other for hours, sometimes without words. Especially when there are no ideas.
Lucia: When we have to quickly come up with something, we’d start with silence and looking at each other. And after those long hours, something gets born. During this, we repeat the same speeches we said million times before. We don’t get bored at all by saying the same thing even a hundred or hundred and twenty times in a row. Sometimes we rehearse the same discussions with different voices. It started spontaneously, by mimicking someone specific but now they are entities on their own and the sources are unrecognizable.
Q: Can you show us some?
Anetta: We can’t do it in front of other people, it can only be the two of us.
Lucia: It’s very limiting that we must wrap everything up in words, that there is no space for things that cannot be said.
Anetta: We already have such abbreviations. We don’t have to tell each other many things related... We have reference points to which we keep referring and we don’t need to explain or describe them. Our biggest wish is to have our own language nobody could understand.
Lucia: For a while we wanted to learn Esperanto. But even the Slovak language can serve when we go a hundred kilometers west, so then
we actually already have our secret language.
Q: I’d like to also ask how you make money.
Anetta: Combined. We both teach, occasionally.
Lucia: Officially full time, but in reality here and there.
Anetta: We both teach at universities and at the same time do art.
Lucia: But unfortunately, we have to combine it, we couldn’t survive on just the school pay or just on exhibition royalties.
Anetta: And sometimes we even sell something.
Lucia: But that’s unusual. That’s because we don’t do things that could
be sold, we don’t paint, for instance. Someone could hardly buy a video to hang above their couch.
Q: So when are you going to get married?
Lucia: Well, that’s the thing. We were supposed to get married last summer. We thought it would be a good knock-out for the institution of marriage. We wouldn’t be getting married out of love, nor because of property, nor because of the fear of loneliness, not because of the pressure of society, which are the most common motivations. We’d shave the whole act down to bare bones and it would become a pact.
Anetta: It’s a form of criticism of marriage. We both have partners and we’d get married despite that. They might get a heart attack, but that’s alright. We want to get them used to the fact that things don’t have to be as they think they have to be.
Q: But at the same time it’s not just about your guys.
Anetta: Of course it’s not.
Lucia: Alright, so one more glass. We also have wine and egg liquor.
Q: So, to your health and thank you for being such nice hostesses.
Lucia: It was very pleasant, a bit like a girlie birthday party after lunch.