Veronika Bromová - HaHathor's Handbag / Hathořina kabelka, March 23 - May 22, 2007
A handbag or side bag, as I personally see a purse, is my secret intimate object hiding its contents. It is a reflection of me, my needs and the time I am in. It is the truth of its owner. People are mostly fixated on this small accessory, previously maybe a bag or sack that hid our necessary objects during our travels through nature. That is the way it has been forever. A man found in a glacier had a belt much like those kidney shaped waist belts, We wear today. In earlier times, the handbags were among objects necessary to survive in the wilds, today it is pretty much the same... all these necessary objects, cards, phones. Makeup... basically matter filling a materialistic world and our consumption-focused society where we must sail against the current or else be in misery. In my accessory bag around my waist, which functions like a handbag, I carry my small digital camera, in which I save the images of the world seen by my brain and my eyes and imagination. I make it material... my seen imagination, in a box full of 1s and 0s, and the again and again my printer spraying these codes on paper or canvas or something else that we can take in our hands and look at. Handbag...what I call here My hand closed bag. I carried my "kidney" bag around my waist like a belt, with my digital camera on my travels through Egypt, last year. The strength of visual and spiritual imagery shining from that civilization inspires me enormously, to the present day, and has inspired my current work: HaHathor's Handbag One of the most inspiring Ancient Egyptian temples is, in my experience, the temple at Dender, about 70 Km from Luxor, and it is dedicated to the goddess Hathor. Hathor was a goddess of earthly pleasure and above all, of fertility, often shown in images of cows, or women with long curly hair and ears of cows. This temple is from the Ptolemaic period. The temple has a perfectly preserved roof with the sacred goddess Nuith and the god Usira, while the floor holds a sacred lake and two smaller temples, the whole complex enclosed by high walls. I was amazed at the clean style of its construction, the perfection in every detail, the subtlety of the reliefs and their functionalism. I understood the enormous influence that the art of ancient Egypt continues to have on art through the millennia and to the present day. On the right side of the temple I was taken by one particular relief. A woman carrying a handbag, which was made in the shape of amphora, from which grew something like mushrooms on each side, while from the bottom came a two of small pipes, so that the bag looked much like a small handbag for an evening out... something you would put your lipstick and mirror into, but to me it evoked an extremely dark, secret feeling..., the feeling that it was an object from which we can extract a secret substance from the mushrooms, a psychotropic extract, whose owner can be taken to some other dimension of sensory perception and understanding of something bankless fire and to which would be the goals of the ancient Egyptians, a place where they hoped and believed that they would wind up on their afterlife journeys. Like the Egyptian book of the dead, in which one finds the "chapter about leaving the material world for the bankless fires." Surely the Egyptians perceived our world differently from us. The run of life and death, the changes of the natural world, everything under the complete will of the gods and our earthly life was lived in full consciousness of the afterlife. In the physical world nothing happening without its spiritual cause. In my photographs, a cycle of self portraits from nature, freely associated with ideas from Egyptian mythology and my own life philosophy and feelings for the dark world and powerful universe of nature, in which we are allowed to travel and experience miracles. On this journey I am my own guide, a woman who identifies with the goddess Hathor, and from whom I have borrowed a mushroom handbag. Her gift for which I am thankful. Thank you HaHathor the Great.
Veronika Bromová, 2006
Special thanks to Martin Mainer for his company on my travels, Pavel Klvan for his help with the photography, Petr Lada for his expertise with ceramics, Jaroslav Kucer for his expertise with metalwork, Vicky Steptoe and Sissi Nielson from the exhibition Content-Handbag in Contemporary Art in Sweden, ERCO Lighting for their lighting expertise, Magdalena Vovsová and Miroslav Pesche for their expertise in graphics embossing.
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Veronika Bromová (1966) is recognized as one of the seminal figures of the Czech contemporary art scene. She studied graphics and illustration at the School of Applied Arts, Prague under Prof. J. Salamoun from 1987 to 1993, but her artwork, since graduating, has focused exclusively on photography and installation. The subject of her photography is, in most cases, her own body and self, distorted, disguised and otherwise manipulated to explore themes of identity, prejudice and isolation. Since 2001, she has headed up the New Media Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. She was chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and has exhibited widely both at home and abroad.