The exhibitions are accompanied by a publication Archives & Cabinets, 120 pp., Museum of European Art in Liberec 2012. The book includes a comprehensive selection of the artist's diaries and texts by Václav Cílek, Jan K. Čeliš, Věra Jirousová and Zuzana Štěpanovičová. order this book
Fire of Archives and Cabinets of Heart, photo: J. Štěpanovič
Opening performance by Frank van de Ven / 14th June 2012, photo: J.K.Čeliš
Text is as important in Miloš Šejn’s work as all the other media that can be called artistic, as Šejn is a visual artist; but his techniques include many activities – from ‘classic’ kinds like drawing, painting and photography to performance art that goes beyond the boundaries of shape, which is over and over again redefined by his work. Text appears in many forms. It might be part of a drawn message, inscribed in a picture in the page of an artist’s book or in a painting; it moulds itself into a bold or meticulous drawing and encryption, seeking a total grasp of reality, just like thorough, precise descriptions in the names of works or the commentaries on them. Besides photos and videos, these become a further or even the only imprint/record, as in the case of his body sculpture or other personal and intimate interactions with nature or public performances. As well as in drawings, artist’s books and other works of an interdisciplinary character, text takes on other forms in transcriptions/transformations of primary texts (created by ‘hand’), which are a continuation of work with the original written record, a reflection (reminiscence of a return) on authentic moments of creative activity in the natural environment as well as one of the ways of presenting his projects. Presentation of own work is also one of the functions of the collection of texts called Fire of Archives and Cabinets of Heart, which is the core of this publication.
This way of understanding the author’s work also constitutes a thought axis of the exhibition Archives and Cabinets in the Regional Gallery / Museum of European Art in Liberec.
Two parts of Milos Šejn's archives from fifties, sixties and seventies.
Cabinet of Tree of Identity
The horror and the beauty in the heart of a little child. What else to write here? An Art Deco sculpture of Harlequin’s demonic grimace, possibly important for the pre-war understanding of beauty, secret in North Bohemia and the infinite beauty of a kingfisher at a blue cove.
Next to several of father’s blue bindings are hiding my uncle’s translations of Maharishi and Vivekananda, which he, Bohumír Šejn, read out at the meetings of friends in Hana Wichterová’s studio during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The writings are lying on a fragment of a bookcase, a favourite part of Brehm’s Life of Animals and a mysterious monography the History of Rosicrucian Society, whose pictorial tables soon became cardinal to me.
There is also paper for series of drawings, a roll of birch bark, like a book, and a set of father’s bone folders.
Below, there are family relics: a Spiritualistic drawing by J. Kotzian called Solferino (17 September 1924), Josef Sudek’s photograph of Hana Wichterlová’s Black Head, and Wichterlová’s drawings of recommended yoga positions that she did for our family in 1957.
Another childhood paper film roll, my first collected stones and my later seals of the Gorges from the 1980s.
Even lower are father’s jars of medicinal plants and one of my first archive boxes from the 1950s. Diaries, equipment, colour scales…
Cabinet of Physical Mysteries
Scales (on which, for long years, I weighed the ingredients of my photographic developer for three-step gradation), measures, carat tables of the prices of precious stones and several obsidian Upper-Paleolithic tools from a cave in Slovakia, whose name I have forgotten and that were given to me by Václav Cílek at our first meeting, some-time in the early 1990s. “I always carry a stone like this in my pocket”, he said to me then,“ so I can, everyday, feel deeply the touch of that world whose masterpieces we scarcely understand now.
A condenser from a Magnitarus enlarger, which I used almost daily in my work during the 1980s. It also became part of a video installation at the international symposium FUNGUS in the Minorite Monastery in Plasy in 1994. Picture, sound, water architecture, a skeleton of the soul of my body and the physique of other bodies created an integral unity with the Moon of that evening.
Relics of my chemical laboratory whose size increased dangerously in the 1960s.
One of the reflector bulbs and a memory of its journeys to explosions of light.
Corroded bottom of a copper pot the family used for everyday life activities – for me, not very practically, it meant something more mysterious. Boiling, steaming, changing colours, questions, misunderstanding, anticipation.
Cabinet of Creativity
Museum, collage, objects of study.
Right at the top rests a body of a stone-transformed branch from a relatively recent time.
Below, some natural material from my desk, as it developed during the years. And on the right is a measuring glass with a bottle of gold dust. Both very old, but used quite recently during the performance art show Golden Waters of Vltava at the piazzeta of the National Theatre in Prague, as part of Quadriennale’s scenography.
Right at the bottom, again, there is a time mixture: one of the parts of my little muse-um from the early 1960s, together with a yellow-lichen-covered twig from the Kobyla quarry in Czech Karst (peeled of on the way with Frank van de Ven), and Swedish moss collected during my wonderings with SU-EN through northern taiga, around Haglund Skola’s studio.
Cabinet of Book Legacy
Books. Knowledge. My records from repeated journeys up the Javoří potok brook be-tween the peatbogs of Černá Hora and the valley of Úpa river in the Krkonoše mountains possess intimacy as well as universal monumentality. Also the memories of the past and the evanescent present. Words run and sometimes maybe grope at the future.
A corpus lies on books of similar topics; two are a night-time transformation of historical books. At the top of Zebín, in the foothills of Krkonoše, I imagined the place into the texts of the Ovid’s Metamorphosis and Novalis’s Hymns to the Night.
The whole installation is based on the found seismic records from the Mayrau lignite mine near Kladno, authorized as found books.
Seba. One of the greatest collectors of his time. How to put in understanding and colourfulness of the present.
At the back: Berounka / St. George, at the place of transformation of the rivers Mže, Radbuza and Úslava into a new name of a river, molten lead poured into the water on the location, gold-plated, 49˚45’50.52“ 13˚24’44.42“, 7. 7. 2002
Miller’s dream book (19th centrury dream book in flour). It was also a prop for the film HYPNEROTOMACHIA MOLITORI / Miller’s Visions 2009.