A House with No Walls by Anna Mikuskova

$650.00 - Please contact 23 Sandy for current availability.
As a child, I listened to my father’s stories of his boyhood in 1950s Czechoslovakia, stories of adventures taking place in the narrow cobblestoned streets of his hometown or near the fields and lakes of his grandparents’ village. I never met any of his family, in life or in photographs. And by the time I was born, the streets and buildings that came alive in his descriptions were gone. They were demolished along with eighty other towns in the area to make way for expanding coal mines. With no way to connect my father’s memories to physical locations or images, the stories I heard sounded like make-believe, no more real than the tales I read in my storybooks.

Last year, wishing to fill these voids in family history and geography, I returned to the north Bohemian city of Most, where both my father and I were born, and retraced the locations of former towns. Guided by historical maps, my father’s memories, and above all by the landscape itself, I searched for clues that would reveal what was no longer there. Frequently, my father joined me on my expeditions, and as we walked or traveled by local trains and buses, he shared stories from local and personal history and geography—guiding me at once through the present and the past.

“I am not a poet, I am a city, ill-equipped to write about the affairs of people. I am a city, a new city. I cannot bear witness to the past, I can describe only what I see,” writes the Czech poet Pavel Brycz about the town of Most. A House with No Walls describes what I see and bears witness to the past with a combination of photographs, historical maps of the locations I sought,  hand-drawn routes of my walks, and text addressed to my father — a continuation of our conversations that were inspired by the landscape we explored.

Artist Bio

Anna Mikušková grew up in the Czech Republic and is currently based in New York State. She received an MA in English language and literature from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic and an MFA in Photography and Related Media from the Rochester Institute of Technology. For six years, she apprenticed as a silver gelatin printer with Paul Caponigro -a cooperation that culminated with several group and two-person exhibitions. Before turning to visual arts, Mikušková worked in the field of human rights focusing on services for immigrants and refugees. Her photographs have been exhibited in galleries across Maine, Massachusetts and New York, and are held in private collections in the United States and the Czech Republic. Her essays were published in The Maine Arts Journal and in the British journal On Landscape. In 2020, her project A House with no Walls received a “Critics’ Pick” selection by the Griffin Museum of Photography.