Petra Ruzickova

Artist's Statement

The most beautiful of all possible experiences is the unknown. This basic sensation constitutes the essential cradle of all art and all science.
--Albert Einstein

The quest for light, and for a visual language in which light's awesome life-giving power might be conveyed, has been motivating artists since the days of the ancient civilizations. Of course, no one can ever triumph absolutely in the struggle to capture this dynamic: there is always a disparity between any created picture and the actual subject it tries to represent. And this very disparity-more than in the limited reproduction of some apparent "reality"-is where an artist's essential individual perspective is ultimately to be found (we all know, after all, that a cat does not even recognize her own photo but a photographer does).

The spirits surrounding us are not readily visible, but rather lie dormant in what Jung summarized as our "collective unconscious." In my work I try to capture these forces as they radiate from basic elements and objects that we all recognize. This is the essence of my own individual perspective, and I can only hope that my photographs, irrespective of their narrative "content," reveal something of this largely unknowable power.

I have always been drawn to archetypal images, because I find that these better communicate the eclectic array of sensations that I want to capture than subjects with more finished associations. At the beginning of my career I was able to find the raw materials for these experiences only by traveling to the Far East, to Africa, to Latin America. More recently, I have finally begun encountering them as well in my own native city of Prague and around my native land.

This word, "encounter," appeals to me because it suggests the meeting and joining of two entities, photographer and subject. My photographs result from the encounter between my own vision and those energies I sense in play around me. In a chemical reaction two elements may combine to form a substance entirely unlike either one of them individually; likewise the images in my work reflect neither my own internal sensibility nor the intrinsic characteristics of my subjects exclusively, but rather the uniquely indescribable consequence of their mutual confrontation.

For a long time I avoided color photography altogether, believing that only the more abstract black and white medium could effectively reveal my experience of the unknown in the archetypal images I encountered. When I recently, and at first reluctantly, began experimenting with color,however, I discovered that I could achieve a similarly dream like, or visionary, effect by distorting and exaggerating the natural tones of my subjects. The latest culmination of this new path for me is the "Implied City" photo cycle, shot entirely in Prague. The use of color techniques in this series has allowed me to discover new spirits residing in old, familiar spaces.

People looking at my recent photographs have asked me whether this one is a double or multiple exposure, whether that one is a collage of images taken at different times in different places. Although I have occasionally used such techniques in the past (and may do so again in the future), all of the pictures that comprise these latest series have been developed from single negative frames.

Artist's book available, please inquire:

Petra Ruzickova
Fortress: The Stone Star Terezin
Commentary by Arnost Lustig and Jan Suk
Prologue by Petr Pithart
Translated by Katerina Pinosova and Laura Conway
2003, Kant, 115 pages
English and Czech versions available

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