April 26

Many things can’t be expressed with words – that’s when the silence says it all

Kateřina Zochová is an artist and a musician based in Prague who will lead the two part workshop for children devoted to silence, music and curiosity in A4 called And then the silence smiled. She will also perform as a supporting act for Space Lady on Saturday (28th April) and introduce some of the songs she had composed when on a residency in A4 last year. We talked to her about music, sounds, concentration and appreciation of a moment.
You have graduated in the studio of Vladimír Skrepl and Jiří Kovanda at the Academy of Fine arts in Prague. In your work you combine different mediums and are working with sound frequently. How did your artistic practice and approaches to various topics change throughout the years and what is influencing you currently?
My graduate project at the AVU was titled “To lose something every day” and this motto I try to keep in mind to this day. My work forms in relation to my outlook on life and myself. I started making string instruments, which is a beautiful and a fun experience, every time. It’s also very grounding – when you work with tools used for woodwork, you have to concentrate to the fullest or you lose your finger! So it’s also a meditation for me.
Last summer you started a residency in A4 during which you worked on an audiovisual project. It resulted into various musical compositions oscillating somewhere between abstractions and simple songs. Your aim was also to create a work with psychotherapeutic effect. What methods did you use to make this effect work?
Psychotherapeutic, calming or contemplative effect in music is interesting for me, but it wasn’t the main aim of the project that time. The result was supposed to be a music complication dedicated mainly to a children audience – and what came out was an uncomplicated sound poem. I try not to expect too much from the outcome – and just learn and work with anything that is available the best way I can. Mixing your oatmeal with banana for breakfast or making a new song – it should be considered similarly important, but it often isn’t. It’s a tough learning process! I can surprise with great breakfast but also burn the porridge.
An important part of the process were simple string instruments that you made in the first phase of the project. Did you collaborate with somebody onmaking them? What makes these instruments suitable for therapeutic purposes?
I read in one musical-therapy books that the way the individual musical instruments work on us is related to the way our body needs to hold them. It matters where we touch them, what parts resonate together. It makes a lot of sense to me. According to this key the string instruments (violin, cello, harp, kantele, …) relate to the heart, where the Breathing and the Spirit of us resides. But that’s just one of the ways to look at it. I like how Biosynthesis sees our body and its emotional intelligence – it’s a kind of a body psychotherapy. Therapeutic use of musical instruments is magical when applied with hearing impaired people, for example. I also have an experience working with autistic children, who can reach a deep calm relaxation through music. Also people experiencing a lot of stress react to sound waves very positively, but that we know from everyday life. I sometimes catch myself singing when I am feeling nervous or stressed. Music is a beautiful medium, it can touch the most hidden layers within us. 

The project you made during your residency was called “Tell tell fairy – tale”. Why did you go for this title?
I like fairy tales. They hide the deepest wisdom. Leave the kingdom, embark on a journey, kill a dragon, acquire what you haven’t even dreamt about. They show the way. Don’t try to be a giraffe if you are a bumblebee – and thousand other variations on the theme. Every night I read fairy tales to my son and it always moves me. Then the practical part happens.
A part of the project were children music and dance workshops – the kids were exploring the connections of sounds and exercise, movement and imagination, they could use musical instruments.
The aim of the workshops is to wake up imagination, harmonize or get rid of what is not a part of us through some kind of an exploration or even explosion. In ideal case we want to create an atmosphere of something special, make a strong emotional experience happen and we need to improvise to get there. During the first set of workshops I organized for younger kids there was one little boy, who took a harp and started playing with a lot of sensitivity and then I slowly joined in with a small drum and then a fascinating and very concentrated dialogue happened.

The next children workshop will happen on Saturday, 28th of April and it’s called “And then the silence smiled”. How does the silence sound?
I have to mention a fairytale by Daisy Mrázková, since the intro to the workshop also references it. At one point in this tale, the silence is asked a question: “Listen, Silence, don’t you wanna say something, acutally?”. There’s many things that are hard to express with words and that’s when the silence says it all. The silence allows us to look within ourselves, stay inside. That’s where I think it can resonate. Now I also remember reading a sentence “everything that I am can be sung” somewhere.
What’s the position of silence in music? Do you consider silence one of the instruments?
Of course, but that’s no news. Try to sing a song without silence!
One of the creative methods of the workshop is a sound collage. Could you talk more about what kinds of techniques will be used during the workshop?
The workshops planned for April and May will be oriented at older kids – from 11 to 14 years old. We’ll be working with electronic instruments, too. I’d like to record sound portraits that each participant can take home afterwards. We will be recording these in pairs and imagine each other as a landscape – not only as a sound scape but as a forest, water, rocks… There will be games to play, made for relaxation and conscious experiencing of emotions.
What are you other activities? We know you are also a member or a collective Audiofenky (Audiofenky is a title of a longterm friendship with Markéta Lisá. Hurá. Pure.), you play the harp, are a yoga lecturer…
I learn to use my ears and eyes purely and not to judge.
The workshop is organized as a part of the project Re-Imagine Europe, co-financed by the program Creative Europe of European Union.