The installation intervention at the Luhačovice Municipal Swimming Pool presents artworks related to the subjects of mythical creatures referred to in fairytales by a variety of names: mermaid, nymph, siren, rusalka, and to the water element in which they live, and which legend says they govern.
Intervention #32: Echoes of the Sirens’ Songs
Artists: Jan Boháč, Šárka Koudelová, Martin Lacko, Michael Nosek and the artists’ non-collective björnsonova with Tamara Antonijević, Lucia Kvočáková, Lucie Svoboda Mičíková, Tanja Šljivar, Nik Timková and Zuzana Žabková
Curated by Veronika Čechová
Production: Ondřej Houšťava, Jakub Lerch, Eva Takácsová
As part of the Jindřich Chalupecký Society program
23 June 2022 – 30 August 2022
Městská plovárna Luhačovice , Luhačovice
The mythical portrayals of water creatures usually have a common underlying theme: their appearance partly resembles the human (usually female) body, but only half of it - the other half of the body resembles a fish.
Another classic attribute is the long, flowing hair suggestive of seaweed, which in many cases constitutes one of their primary tools of power; by combing or simply tossing their hair, they can unleash storms and bring the wrath of the water element upon whoever falls into disfavour with them.
This (now widely romanticized) concept, however, is the remnant of a tradition of originally revered and awe-inspiring ancient deities who were worshipped in many places around the world, from the Babylonian water god Ea, who later transformed into Poseidon, the Greek ruler of the sea, to the Assyrian goddess Atargatis, who was responsible for ensuring the fertility of her devoted people. It seems that the contradictions surrounding these mythical creatures have been part of the stories people tell about them since time immemorial.
It seems that the contradictions surrounding these mythical creatures have been part of the tales told about them since time immemorial. In some parts of the world, such as ancient China, the sirens were considered an auspicious sign, a blessing upon the sea, which they filled with pearls made from their tears. In contrast, Scandinavian stories and Anglo-Saxon legends warned against mermaids because they were believed to be a deadly threat to sailors and fishermen in that part of the world.
In a modern age that tends to idealize stories and diminish even traditionally frightening themes, the mermaid is often a superficial decorative symbol for something beautiful and mysterious. Hans Christian Andersen's originally tragic fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (in which an unfortunate mermaid, because of her unrequited love for a human prince, pays a cruel price for her transformation into human form by losing first her tongue and then her life) has become, thanks to Walt Disney's concept, an entertaining animated tale in which everyone sings and everything ends well.
Through the artists exhibiting at the Luhačovice Municipal Swimming Pool, we have the opportunity to observe several reflections on the current personification of the water element, which we should avoid particularly in times of ongoing climate change resulting in increasingly severe droughts.
At varying stages in our lives, water constitutes up to 80% of the human body, as is equally true for the billions of organisms with which we inhabit and share our living space. The term "hydrofeminism" has come into use in philosophical discourse in the global intellectual sphere. According to this theory, by virtue of the water in our bodies, which flows through us and all other forms of life in an endless cycle, we are interconnected at a level of which we have no space to be aware in ordinary life. It is only in extreme cases of scarcity or pollution of the water on which we depend, or the presence of harmful substances in our own bodies that have entered them with water as their basic substance, that we become aware of this interconnectedness and interdependence. "My" water can, within a few days, be the water of a fish in the sea or a tree drawing moisture from the earth. And their water, in turn, can be the same water which, during the reign of the mythical god Ea, was poured down the throats of his worshippers in the performance of ancient rituals. The interconnectedness, fluidity and need to care for water as a life-giving element is as relevant today as it was in the days when sailors avoided certain areas of the sea lest the sirens lure them into dangerous shallow waters.