Mariana Mañón caught up with Czech artist Martin Kohout about his residency in Mexico City, which was part of an international residency exchange program organized by Black Cube and Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA.
This past August, Czech artist Martin Kohout was in Mexico City for an artist-in-residence program organized by Black Cube and Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA. The international residency exchange was intended to provide an opportunity for artistic research and cultural connection between contemporary artists and new communities.
This interview shows an odd conversation between Martin Kohout, Mariana Mañón (official Mexico City liaison), and the random comprehension of a voice typing assistant.
The interview is intentionally left unedited, as the voice recognition functionality acts as both a third participant in and interpreter of the conversation. In a way, the speech software’s “mistakes” parallel Martin’s own prior misconceptions about Mexico, revealing new ideas and reflections on his residency experience.
Okay are you recording? So Mariana, you can ask me the first question. Hello but it's stupid busy doesn't distinguish between sentences. We will have to do lot of editing. Next chapter paragraph Ritter delete make a new line okay forget it you're useless okay. So we will talk about contemporary artificial intelligence Technologies I guess right? Did you want to blow up the song? Fuk fuk fuk fuk fuk fuk I already tried his my phone is always super annoying with this it stopped before you leave is not right in everything cuz I'm humble okay Jessie we can try this one.
Mariana Mañón: Martin, tell us all about your interests in Mexico City. All that's why the drug question where should I start? Okay it starts please on sale the work that you've been doing. That with a video of a frog. What is that about? But it doesn't have so much to do with Mexico City that's interesting. Can you tell us more about that piece? Over. I'm just testing it. Baby plastic pants delete last sentence.
Martin Kohout: Well I will probably first I should probably start with explaining what is in the video then and it's important for a minute. Mostly you just see an image of the very minimalist landscape with three big stones in grass that is moving in the wind that it's kind of moving in waves like underwater and there's smoke very light smoke covering the sky which is on the way and there's a there's a sun that is very bright and Shining but kind of burning as well and then every now and then you see a frog that jumps towards you but hits the glass of the TV and bumps off. The video is making 3D with an aesthetics that is very clearly artificial and Michael I did was create a situation that is at once both a bit comical or humorous and it's been over a fairytale kind of setup and at the same time it provokes you to feel this like humorous element in it because of how it’s depressing to see how the animal is trying again and again and always hits the glass and it’s trying to kind of get inside where you are but it's not kind of allowed to do it doesn't even access to it and atmosphere of the image which is kind of pale colors and in the smoke should make it unclear whether it's before I can test your fuel situation or right after something bad happened, things were burned and everything you do is silent but every time this frog hits the glass there is a sound for it.
MM: So they didn't answer question answered my question beautifully so my thing I know this piece it was actually already presented in the context of Natural History Museum in Prague. Erase that please replace Prague with Brno. So I took you to the Natural History Museum here in Mexico City so you can have a comparison with the one that you were working with. How was the experience compared to a comparison oreimo how was it for you?
MK: Well the first note to confuse the reader that this video describing as something I have been working on here and finishing that's a new version of the video and an earlier version that was much more simple it was only the frock on the plain background. Well the stars worried about period over. I'm just testing this is really glastonbury. So Indian museum you're asking about I was showing an earlier version of this video which was much more simple to fit the installation that I was working there with and this Museum in Brno was built in 1968 and opened a year later. It has three floors but in general it's smaller than the one you have here in Mexico City and even though there have been some updates in the exhibition in the museum in brno when you enter the space you kind of feel like you entered a Time Capsule because even many of the descriptions are still kept original and sometimes there is a sticker informing about some of the information being outdated but most of the elements are from the late 60s. And them it's also located very Central in the city but more many people don't even know about it Museum there or only recall did they actually have been there when they were children like when they were kids in school so it's awesome. So when you're there alone or less with Exposition where Taxidermy animals are not hidden behind the glass because of the closet to be removed some years ago due to it becoming unstable and dangerous. Especially the big pieces of glass for the big light dioramas and therefore it's a very unique experience where you were standing in front of the diorama and there is no barrier between you and the animal. It has a very strong atmosphere which is kind of you really have to think about all the layers of time present there and the speed of time they're inside. And saw why would the museum that you have here has different parts of the museum have different age. That say so we saw some parts that are very very new and something very original and I thought that there is quite nice because of you see this contrasts you can sell it to me immediately see how much different the approach and maybe also don't approach but the budget are in each of them. and of course I think of the movie thing that in terms of how much you learn from it or how much information you get from
MM: With the time that you had here it's been over a month now if you had more time maybe to actually produce something here what would you like or what do you think you will be producing or maybe even if you have any thoughts or some something that tracked you the most here in Mexico to develop a project here. What will that be?
MK: Well I think that I would be definitely curious to work with some of the craftsmen and small workshops I saw in Santa María la Ribera and throughout the city and try to work with materials that I’m normally not used to work with and do a lot of tests. And I also feel like I've been observing things and most of the month I spent by trying to learn more about the culture here in the city. It inspired definitely low-dose things that will in future resonate with the way I work with gyros in media did I already know so into tens maybe I would even make work in a similar way as I've been working until now but I think that the effect would be there and if I could be working on that right here it would be probably stronger cuz I could involve processes or people that are are local and therefore their contribution would be a bit more dominant than if I try to replicate it or work inspired by it back in and the other thing. And the other thing that I have been kind of thinking about that you're allowed in collecting notes for is my next future film or video project. And it sends I feel like that my stay at your has been really potent and I'm sure even if I would stay another month or even more it would Inspire or bring in ideas and observations that I could have been involved in it and work with.
MM: Can you can you share a details of that fix that you've been taking? What notes have you been taking?
MK: So well I would say that it's not about the particular details as like an isolated sentence. But there are a lot of things in you would say almost like daily life. So it's the things I see on the way to the museum and maybe not so much when I go and visit cultural sites here and observe maybe how decorative Arts are involved in architecture. In Sony hear it definitely has an effect on the way I think about such elements and aesthetics in general. But and so those are definitely inspiring in the butt for the ideas that relate more to the content of my work I feel like those are usually interactions that have been like on the way to the place I want to visit and they are more like pointers to how things can be done and thought about differently or how some place or someone that has different priorities for achieving something then in the places I'm used to navigate through. Enso it might be little things as Four Lokos are just like not really exceptional but when I look at them in relation to how the same thing would be taken care of in Central Europe brings in load of ideas about why is it different or why can I buy why does it feel unusually and so on which I think is really interesting. So even for that purpose is taking notes about it for a film it wouldn't even necessarily have to be that I would then replicate the same thing in the film but being inspired by the thing being like red or understand differently I think I can apply this on other things but definitely there are things like that I really Infested by the does such as the police cars always having the signal lights on, just without sirens on, all the time wherever they go whatever they do even then the car is parked in the police person sleeping in the car at 4 in the morning the lights are blinking all the time as if the Space Heroes in constant state constantly state of emergency which and those kind of things are the things that's tourists don’t come here for until 1 but I really like to look at them and think about it.
MM: Okay so let's do like a Cheesy question let's do a pop 5 of Mexico City.
MK: So of course it's cheese quesadillas, cheese and mushroom sopes. Record it only recorded the... Well five things about Mexico City I would say in no particular order definitely it's the visual culture here either is mostly like the historical one but I mean in architecture in someone and how go to visual elements and the narrative elements are present in the space here. I really like how it's in architecture and someone I really enjoyed going to see a lot of pre-classical and classical Mexican art. I also really love how green and kind of wild wild and even though that I have been complaining about the sector there are not many parks even though chapultepec is one of the largest Parks in the northern hemisphere. But then also do I really like people here I feel that very warm and very kind and kind of curious also in a nice way. And of course the food unquestionably like one of the most amazing Adventures here and also very accessible. I like that I know that even if I would stay here for a long time I would know there is still a lot to explore cuz it's very rich in many things City the layers of history and culture and so on and it's definitely interesting to see how people relate to this tree.