s e j n b o h e m i ae r o s a
Bohemiæ Rosa Project
Site Body Exploration
& Frank van de Ven
ALIQVID AMPLIVS INVENIES
IN SILVIS QVAM IN LIBRIS.
LIGNA ET LAPIDES DOCEBVNT TE
QVOD A MAGISTRIS AVDIRE
"Believe the experienced:
you will find more
in forests than in books,
the stone and the wood will teach you
what you won't hear
from your teacher."
Poněkud více najdeš
v lesích než v knihách.
Dřevo a kameny tě naučí,
co od učitele
St. Bernardus, Epist. 106
(A contemplation by St. Bernardus on the cascade of a forest brook, recorded in a fresco in his chapel at the Plasy monastery.)
you walk you see listen feel touch and taste in many different ways
On Zebín Hill / Bohemian Paradise, 11/2004
The Bohemiae Rosa Project was started in about 1992 when different processes in my life started to interconnect.
Perhaps the most important impulse is my own long-lasting connection to the Czech landscape, especially here at this place, at the top of Zebín Hill near Jicin. This is a very historical place, which has been admired also by Czech romantic artists, like the poet Karel Hynek Macha. From the top of this hill it is possible to see the whole surrounding landscape, called Cesky Raj or Bohemian Paradise.
My own work developed here practically from childhood – collecting pigments, walking around, drawing and observing the environment. From the beginning of the 90s - when I started to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, the impulses of this place and my new role as a teacher developed into numerous projects and workshops.
In 1990 and 91 I worked together with my students on an ecological project for the Elbe River with The Harrison’s, and late in 1992 this experience transformed into cooperation between the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and the European Association for Architecture and Education. The project set out to compare the historic quality of our landscape(s) and reflect upon, and develop new methods for teaching art – how to define borders and how to find a new sensibility.
In 1994 I met Frank van de Ven for the first time. Through his introduction to Body Weather, while we were working together on the performance Bez Data in the ARCHA theatre in Prague many different aspects of my work came together and connected.
The idea of Bohemiae Rosa became more and more concrete, like walking through the landscape. The first meeting and workshop was realised in 1995 in Mseno, in a sand-rock pre historical landscape. From 1995 until 2003 Bohemiae Rosa took place bi-annually and we worked in 5 different National Reserves in the Czech Republic. They were all realized with an imaginary respect to Bohuslao Balbinos map of the Czech Lands which looks like a Rose. It is from this picture that the title of this project: Bohemiae Rosa Project was derived.
„Der Tanz ist alles Wissen,
„All the knowledge, vision, construction
is a dance…“
„Tanec je všechno vědění, vidění, stavění…“
Rudolph von Laban, 1920
Frank van de Ven
From 1983 until 1992 I lived and worked in Japan where I was part of Min Tanaka’s dance company Maijuku. It was on tour with them that I visited the Czech Republic for the first time in 1984. Performances took place at the Junior Club and they were illegal and underground. There were no flyers and all the advertising was done by word of mouth. After the performance audiences waited for us to come out of the dressing room to talk about what they had seen. Czech artists were also eager to show us their own work.
In 1985 in Japan Min realised his long held dream of starting a farm and from then on our dance training included working in the rice fields and taking care of animals and vegetables. Gradually the landscape of the farm in Hakushu seeped into our bodies.
Those first performances of Min and Maijuku in the mid 80’ies in the Czech Republic and in Poland were organised by Ondrej Hrab. After my return to Europe in 1993 Ondrej invited me to do choreography for the newly opened Archa theatre in Prague. The performance was called Bez Data after a poem of Bohuslav Reynek. I worked with Katerina Bakatsaki, who was also part of Maijuku, and with 10 Czech dancers whom we trained during several workshops prior to the start of the rehearsal process.
It was during our work on Bez Data that I met Milos Sejn. He performed, he did the set-design and contributed on many levels to the performance. We found a common interest in the relation of bodies and landscape and right after the Bez Data performance we discussed about the outline and focus of the Bohemiae Rosa Project.
We planned to visit different landscapes in different Czech Protected Areas during a 5 year period, spiralling around Prague and culminating in the area called Bohemian Paradise. With Bohemiae Rosa wanted to create a platform to deepen and intensify our knowledge about Body and Landscape - to research new connections between them and to elaborate an educational model for spreading this type of experience.
From the outset an important part was to be the addition of guest teachers whose respective disciplines were to be brought in as an extra stimulus or mediator of the relation between body and landscape.
During the 10 years of touring and performing with Min Tanaka and Maijuku and living in Japan I absorbed their philosophy and approach to movement and dance. Body Weather as a training and methodology develops a conscious relation between spaces inside bodies and spaces outside bodies. In the dance I brought back with me from Japan was an intrinsic sensitivity and awareness to environment and landscape. But I never had a long-lasting relation to any particular physical landscape. It was in working with Milos and witnessing and partaking of his profound knowledge of - and practical connection to the Bohemian Land that I was able to anchor the work done in Japan and find a fertile ground upon which to further develop and expand Body Weather by working in a variety of Mid European Landscapes and with a large number of Czech (and other) students and artists.