SCANZ 2013: KRA – Kravín Rural Arts

Author: Lenka Dolanova


KRA – Kravín Rural Arts is a project-in-development (since 2009), an art residency center located in a former cowhouse in a small Czech village. Based in an agricultural area, we are forced to work with “indigenous” people, the “locals”. The necessity to confront various “cultures”, or rather to coexist with them, is obvious. We dive into the environmental patterns of the village. Our aim: to use the means of emerging art to challenge the treatment of local 3 ecologies (environmental, mental, social, as described by Félix Guattari). Our method: ecological media art. We believe, that interventions of ecological media artists should range from local-based actions to global commentaries of the environmental crises.

We fight the fossilization of traditions by inserting new, living traditions and festivities. Once they root, the countryside will be more tasty. We organize walks with artists sonifying fences and trees. Walking is a good tool for getting knowledge, “solvitur ambulando” – solving problems by walking and talking. We invent new art tools. We play on barrels, on wind, on local broadcasting system. We construct beehives according to various old and new construction principles.

Not everything works: not many people come, when they might be asked to do something, make something themselves – they are used to be a passive audience more then active participants, their creativity being reserved for their families. We attempt to enliven the sense of community, beyond family units. If they do not want to participate in our activities, we participate in theirs, but trying to challenge them from inside. We input ourselves, artists and researchers, into our community, using camouflage of beekeepers, gardeners, denizens, who we became. In the tradition of artists as tricksters, disrupting rules and conventional behavior.

Cows and bees are the main figures in our new mythology. As is goat as the symbol of Garden Of Art Tools (an emerging outside lab for experiments with solar and wind energy, bee monitoring station). Kravín (name referring to the original function of the place we inabit, house of cows) is a place of cultural memory, also with lots of cowshit hidden in (in metaphorical sense, more than the real one). We poke our noses into it. Rural artistic research has to be done with hands sodden in humus, swearing grass and breathing old concrete dust, bee stings felt all over the body. While city bees have allegedly more honey than village bees, citizens consume more products from “farmers’ markets” than villagers. Countryside is losing its apples, pears and cherries. Diversity and fruitfullness is what we fight for, armed with our unholy trinity: ecology + media + art.

– KRA = “floe” or “iceberg” (an ecological aspect)
– KRÁ = “caw” or “kaah” of raven (creativity and playfulness of the mythical trickster)
– KRAVÍN = “cowhouse” (original function as the rootage of the project)