Jan Kratochvil: Your main fields of interest are the moving image and sound media. Within your generation, there is not much to compare with in this area. How did you develop your practice?
Roman Štětina: I like dialogues and communication with the older generation in general, and this may be reflected in the kind of art I am interested in. However, the most important thing in my choice of media is the fact that I have never inclined towards painting, drawing, graphics, or other similar disciplines. That doesn’t mean I would be totally uninterested in the classical artistic methods, but I am much more curious about the creative process and the motivation behind the work. And that applies also to other fields of human activities which have become the themes for my work. The media of moving images and sound, therefore, best suit my interests. Moreover, the material is much easier to store and the future of my art is in the hands of the Sun rather than in mine. It is only up to Him to decide when to start another geomagnetic storm, which would delete all the work stored on my hard disk. And that’s quite a relief.
JK: Roman, two years ago you became one of the youngest artists ever to win the Jindřich Chalupecký Award, which has been awarded for 25 years and is said to be the Czech equivalent of the Turner Prize. Last autumn you were confronted in a panel discussion with Duncan Campbell, the winner of this major British prize. How do you perceive the role of an artistic prize in the development of one’s artistic practice?
RS: The biggest challenge that goes with it is to cope with the prize itself. It is important to keep being dissatisfied with your own work and to foster the fragile attitude in your mind called passion, which can quickly fade with the increasing agenda you have to deal with every day. The best thing is to totally forget you have received any prize. You have to disengage from the feeling that someone has put their trust in you and that you mustn’t disappoint them. Motivation has to flow from the inside to the outside and not the other way round. However, I do not forget that it is thanks to the Jindřich Chalupecký Award that I can meet great people such as Duncan Campbell. Naturally, these meetings enrich you and your views on art.
JK: Right now, you’re spending a few months on a residency stay in New York. How does that influence your work?
RS: I have noticed that the sky in New York, unlike Prague, is often without a single cloud. And so my work here is most strongly influenced by the clear horizon. I try to spend as much time as possible outside and not at my laptop. But joking aside, it is too soon to talk about such intense impressions, but if I had to describe my current feelings I would say: the journey of reduction, dematerialisation, and the ecology of work.
JK: What do you find interesting about the Prague artistic scene at this point in your career?
RS: The Prague artistic scene is relatively small but it is tightly knit and watches carefully what happens inside it. It is also quite critical, which keeps you alert and able to defend your own artistic work, not only from other people but also from yourself. I have always liked being present at the creation of something new and I am sure that Prague is in this phase right now and has the potential to become a destination worthy of taking part in an engaging international dialogue. I hope Prague continues in this way.