Exhibition with Pavla Dundalkova and Jakub Tytykalo at Berlinskej Model in Prague.

I’LL REACH INTO THE GROTTO MY CHEST WITH MY HAND
Artists: Pavla Dundalkova, Jakub Tytykalo
Curator: Klára Vavříková
24 - 28 March, 2021
Berlinskej Model, Prague

I was caught in the eyes of a witch

“My smile will land inverted upon your retina. A grimace. If you wish to get along with me, you’ll have to turn my every grimace into a smile. On the other hand, if you don’t, you will live upside down inside yourself. You’ll reach down to the peaks and up to the lowlands, the bottom... the depths. What will happen when the darkness of the depths swallows up the heavens? And when the air is cleanest at your feet, and you raise your arms above you, will your hands touch mud?” said the witch.

“I shall draw clouds in it with my fingers and pull out the tired, sticky gulls,” I answered.

I reach my hand into the cavern of my chest. “It’s bigger now and growing still,” I say. She gropes around inside it with a petulant finger. “It’s cool and damp in there. Endless,” she utters, and the silence that follows her words makes me dizzy. I’m falling through the corpus of my own body, all the way down, like Alice when she reaches the bottom of the rabbit hole. Will I ever get back out? I try to scrape the witch out of my stomach with my fingers. She has settled in my entrails and, as if not wanting to draw attention to herself, dozes there, present, making no large movements, so as to survive for as long as possible. Until the end. She weighs my body down and makes my mind delirious, as if it has strayed from my brain and descended somewhere deep into the grotto of my belly.

I’m suddenly blind in many ways all at once. I’m suddenly deaf in many ways. There’s no air down here. Or is it up there? My breast is strangely still, as if perhaps no heart were beating inside of it. Am I alive? A bitter taste fills my mouth. A hermetically sealed, isolating, mystical cave. A vacuum. Empty. The bottom.

I can touch myself from the inside with my own fingers. Delicate stalactites break off and crumble to sand in my palms. I merely wanted to stroke them. To stroke myself. Instead, I cause irreparable damage to everything I touch. There is more and more sand with my every step. Paralyzed in fear, I’m afraid to move. What if the whole arch collapses on me and buries me here forever? I’ll become an hourglass that has lost its way in a place with no up or down. Sand will sprinkle my body and fall dry from my eyes in place of tears. Fall like the memories deposited within it. But how can I escape this place if I do nothing? How can I move anywhere without movement? As soon as I manage to get my mind back into my body, I’ll tear open my belly and scrape the witch out, I promise. Presently, however, my promises once again forsake me – when I look her in the eyes.

I’m caught in them.

Two lights.

A chill in one, and fire in the other.

I have the eyes of a witch in my head.

A feeling of certainty spreads through me. I know that if I look at them directly, I’ll be able to go on without fear. It seems that the walls are once again keeping their shape. Perhaps they’re being reinforced by some strange power the witch is radiating. Or is it me that’s being reinforced? Have the surroundings changed, or did she simply lure my fear away? Am I safe, or have my last wits abandoned me, and I’m now heading fearlessly to meet my death?

Why does she make it so difficult for me?

Her porcelain skin and round, benevolent face terrify me. Why must she look like the most beautiful child I’ve ever seen? This dirty trick will always work on me. In the end, I once again cradle her in my arms and hug her as if she were the one who was hurt. And her tears are so warm that they would slowly bore holes through all the world’s glaciers, right down to the structure of the Earth itself. They would harden like diamonds, and thousands of years later, humanity’s successors would mine them as treasure. Gemstones trapped in the eyes of a witch.

Photo: František Svatoš