PRAEFATIO: Writing and speaking about pictures is always a tricky thing. Especially in the case when the message of the present works is scepticism towards language and speaking. Is passing from pictures to language not already risky on its own? It is always threatening that words will limit the picture, that they will prescribe to the viewer a meaning that “should be seen” in it. There is also a danger of the interpreter obsequiously gilding the picture with superlatives. If language and pictures could be identical, there would be no need for one or the other. The text can come nearer to the image only vigilantly so that it gets in the same field, about which it can report only with its own means. Not often does the text inadvertently get under the rule of the picture. But it did happen. The segmentation of the visual space and expression of Phila Primus’s works forced me to break the text into similar segments. Each of them consists of other segments of other texts and at the same time they point towards one of the layers of the exhibited works. The individual layers are relatively separated and yet they intertwine with one another, they work with different time levels while being simultaneous…

FETUS IN UTERO – concept, beginning, embryo…once again being drawn into the circle of birth and death. Mixed emotions. Am I being embraced, am I constricted? There is no way back. Just out. Towards the vertigo of infinity. Thousands of things. They are waiting for me, I am them. They permeate me. It is a cobweb from which I will not extricate myself easily. I will have to fight it…

IN STATU NASCENDI – at the moment of birth I feel it is not going to be much better. I am being drawn to the light, exposed to time and un-times, earth and sky, land and water, life and death. In the state of creation I condense… “Being is what requires creation of us to experience it.” (Merlau-Ponty) It is recording of the bark.

PERCIPIO, ERGO CORPUS SUM – I perceive, therefore I am. I have a body. 

My body does not perceive, but it is as if it were built around the perception that dawns through it; through its whole internal arrangement, its sensory-motor circuits, the return ways that control and release movements, it is, as it were, prepared for a self-perception, even though it is never itself that is perceived nor itself that perceives. Before I have knowledge of my body (in which my relation to the other is already implicated the experience of my lived body is a cover of my perception), it has tought me, that the perception is not emerging just anywhere,but in the moment the bodyretreats into the backroud. Between me and things there are henceforth hidden powers, that whole vegetation of possible fantasms which it holds in check only in the fragile act of the look. With each flutter of my eyelashes a curtain lowers and rises, though I do not think for an instant of imputing this eclipse to the things themselves; with each movement of my eyes that sweep the space before me the things suffer a brief torsion, which I also ascribe to myself; and when I walk in the street with eyes fixated on the horizon of the houses, the whole of the setting near at hand quivers with each footfall on the asphalt, then settles down in its place. 

(Le visible et l’invisible).

There are also other bodies here, other faces, like me thrown into the world, kept in their terrariums. Bound in separateness, connected with fibres, chains of various natures. Bands of family and tribe, from the roots to the leaves. They shake in the treetops until they are blown away by the wind.

RADIX ET TERRA – The root is good, it is the source of sap. But at the same time it is bad. It is a captor that binds us to the place. It prevents us from going someplace else. But where? When I see around those hundreds of bodies, not only human and not only at this time, trapped in predetermined micro-worlds, in strange molecules stretching from horizon to horizon, from the depths of the Earth and Ocean to the sky. They show closure. It is a manifestation of the desire to free ourselves from the place, it is a way to deterritorialisation, it is the desire to become nomads, to escape the plan of the sa meness, to escape from any closure. Silence is the energy of transgressive motion ... permeating the worlds, crossing the borders.

VITA ET STRATA – The genesis of life is tied to the land, biology mingles with geology. Molecules group into forms of living bodies. The body of the Earth is a body without organs:

This body without organs is permeated by unformed, unstable matters, by flows in all directions, by free intensities or nomadic singularities, errant or transitional (…) Strata are Layers, Belts. They consist of giving form to matters, of imprisoning intensities or locking singularities into systems of resonance and redundancy, of producing upon the body of the earth molecules large and small and organizing them into molar aggregates. Strata are acts of capture, they are like “black holes” or occlusions striving to seize whatever comes within their reach. (Milleplateaux)

SILENTIUM ET VERITAS – Too many words, too many voices. One shouting over the other, everybody wants to establish their little truth. The result is abominable noise, which ceases to be a language. It is nothing more than a buzzing beehive, prison of language, from which the truth naturally runs away since it is shy. And the madmen inside spout out more and more words, they plug their ears and patch their eyes with them. They see only through words, they live only through words, they feel only through words. Words give birth to chimeras, which many chase as if it was the absolute aim. The confusion of languages, the eclipse of the mind. Bound with the chains of signs, closed away in grammar  from the real drama are the copyists of the Script, the repeaters of the aforesaid; they are bound to consider real only what they can articulate. Their soul stretches and it becomes the prison of the body.

QUID EST VERUM SILENTIUM SANAS? – But language does not grasp anything, signs do not denote, they glide over the surface. Reality is there where language tears. At the abstract level of affection, in the unspeakable the body returns again, vulnerable, feeling pain, whose real milestones are birth, procreation, and death. While words, which we rashly accept as a means of knowledge, often keep us away from the truth, “silence is pure, wise, and never lies” (76% silence).

SILENTIUM SANAT– The world of the people of language is, according to them, composed of 95 % of language. In contrast, Phila Primus’s drawings, collages, and watercolours tell that 76 % is composed of silence. After all, it is a favourite game of the author to express states in percentage. To be accurate, it is supposed to be 76.4 %. In what remains we want to communicate frenetically, we bet everything on one card, although we lose all the time, again and again we come to dead end roads. We consider less than 24 % to be ninety five. In conclusion, we may say that there arose a challenge possible to meet under the condition that we know how to remain silent: to extend life of the zone of silence.

At Phila Primus’s studio, Žižkov, 1 March 2014

Michal Tošner