Velvet Generation: Sylvia Jokelová

Slovenskú verziu rozhovoru nájdete nižšie.

The interview was created on the occasion of the Velvet Generation exhibition taking place at The Embassy of the Slovak Republic in London as a part of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of November ’89.

Portrait of Sylvia Jokelová in the office of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia (© Šymon Kliman)
Portrait of Sylvia Jokelová in the office of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia (© Šymon Kliman)

How old were you in the time of the Revolution, and what was your impression of it then?

I was almost 16 years old. I was at the ŠUP in Kremnica, so I was practically still a child, but we were quite intensively aware of the former regime. We were such a “clique” at the ŠUP — we listened to Kryl, forbidden things; and we enjoyed it a lot. But then, when the Revolution came, we couldn’t believe it’s happening. That was because we were in Kremnica, it’s a small town, so we watched it from far solely through media — through the only television. We still didn’t believe such a thing was possible, that it wouldn’t be suppressed again, that Russians wouldn’t intervene — that’s why we were afraid it wouldn’t work. And when it came through, it was a total euphoria; we were thrilled, and for the next several months, we still didn’t believe it really had happened.

Then it wasn’t particularly apparent in Kremnica?

I remember there was a general strike. People showed up but not in such numbers. The small town was very specific. People lived their own lives there, the garden was more important than going somewhere to a demonstration. We had freedom, but it didn’t change much, life went on at its pace. As for the school, I studied restoration where freedom of creation was actually irrelevant because we were working with relics.

It’s also interesting from the small-town point of view, how people there saw it and experienced it because we usually get information from large cities — the centers of events.

It was really as if people told themselves: “Oh, OK then, so here we go, let’s move on, we still need to plant potatoes.” They simply had a different attitude to life, their pace. As if nothing that important had happened. But I remember that my grandpa was a convinced communist. It was interesting how hugely disappointed he was from all that. Also because several things which happened during socialism came to light, and they had been unknown before. He was an idealist and had no idea of the various crimes that had happened.

Since 1992 you studied at AFAD in Bratislava. In what study did you continue there?

It’s a funny story. I knew I wanted to continue in restoration. But since I had asthma and allergy, the doctor didn’t recommend restoration and wrote jewellery in the application form — she actually chose my field herself. I didn’t even want to go to the application exams, I was determined to be a restorer. Finally, my parents pushed me.

What was your study at AFAD like in the nineties? When you look back at the period, what’s your impression of the school, the mood in society, pedagogues? Did the remnants of the former regime appear at AFAD?

Actually, AFAD was one of the few colleges in Slovakia where everything completely changed. So it was a brand new world. I think that euphoria was there at the beginning. Anything was possible, and it was also done. We all stuck together more, as students we were still at school, we simply lived there. I don’t see anything like that today. Moreover, it was possible to get to know it abroad. There were even exchange stays, it was almost unimaginable.

Have you been at such stay?

I didn’t go to such stay during studies because, at that time, there weren’t any connections established at jewel with foreign schools yet, but we’ve been to school visits quite a lot. I was going to various jewellery symposiums where I met the personalities about whom we’d learned at school — that meant a lot more than going to some school somewhere. They were the people from the professional scene about whom we now read in books — the classics.

What was your first experience when you went somewhere from Slovakia?

The first was the symposium in Switzerland, in the Alps. It was a huge contrast. I was stunned by how people care about their environment, what relationship they have to the country. There was a small factory in every village where people had a job, everything was ideal. This was probably the first culture shock.

Were people from the West interested in coming here?

It was actually then when we succeeded in inviting the biggest starts here, for example — Ruudt Peters, Peter Skubic. They found it totally exotic here. It was interesting for me to find out that just like we had here the propaganda saying that the West and America are evil — they were fed the same tales, too. For them, we were those who “climbed down the trees” and they were surprised that it works here normally, that we have a television, the basic things. At the turn of the nineties and the 2000s, we had a cross-border project with Austrians who were approximately the same generation. I remember they didn’t want to eat anything here when they arrived. It was important that they came here and found out it’s OK here. I think that this works against all prejudices when people get firsthand experience and see there’s nothing to be afraid of. On the other hand, ordinary people had various reactions, there was some xenophobia. They feared a wave of Gastarbeiters from the East, just like we see the fear of migrants today.

When you say that the biggest stars in the field came here, how did you reach them?

I don’t know exactly how it was in other fields. But in jewellery, it was possible thanks to Anton Cepka — he was my first pedagogue. When he “joined” the scene, he was already a star in the West. His name opened the doors everywhere. Then also Karol Weisslechner, who started when I was in the fourth year, continued. “Opening the doors” was probably the most critical pedagogical contribution at the time.

So after the Revolution, exchanges and stays began. Did you travel abroad frequently?

Even right after the Revolution, travelling wasn’t that easy. I remember unpleasant border controls. Now it’s commonplace for us to go shopping in Hainburg. Then there were queues at the borders, the whole bus had to get off, they checked everything. It was unpleasant. The other matter was making exhibitions: crazy paperwork, fees for bringing artworks across borders; it took ages to obtain permission. I remember that we once brought the whole exhibition across the border in buns.

Did the interest of the West subside in the 2000s?

I think that we were no longer so exotic for them since travel relaxed. We also began to level with them in certain cultural traits, and we were on the same wavelength. The “competition” was already real, it was no longer an advantage to be from the East, but we had to fight for a place in the sun. That’s good — we actually wanted that. But the fact is that the “struggle” is a lot more complicated.

In your field — could you tell if there has been any progress, either in technology, materials, or concepts since your studies?

Definitely in concept, since material didn’t matter. The change in thinking about things was significant — that it isn’t just about composition and the brilliance of elaboration, but that what I do is supposed to have a meaning. That was an important finding for me.

How did you finally get from studying jewellery to product design? Did you start pursuing it already at school?

Karol Weisslechner gave his new studio the name S+M+L_XL — it meant various sizes from jewellery to architecture. So there was a lot more freedom. It suited me pretty well since I had the need of material freedom, thinking, and I had various concepts, and not all of them fit the jewel. So I quickly transformed from jewel and started to work on design objects.

What did you do after graduation?

Immediately after school, I worked at the gallery Space for Contemporary Art for a year. Then I succeeded in passing the application process, I’m at the school since — it’s been twenty years already.

The fact that you went to school was for financial reasons or due to pedagogical or academic ambitions?

I admit I needed a job at that time, and it was tough to find something in the field. At first, I thought it was just a job, but I totally fell for it — I found another meaning in it. On the other hand, it was also because I pursed conceptual creation more; it is a field that can’t provide, I think, at least not here. Or maybe I didn’t have such confidence.

If you were starting now, would it be different?

I would probably have more courage. I can feel it now on students, they just believe in themselves. It may be a personality trait, or it’s caused by education. They raised us to absolute respect for authority, to modesty — and it left a mark on us. So I never even believed that it was possible to make a living only with design. Or I would have to compromise, and I can’t do that. I can’t compromise in some areas, and I’d rather, for example, go sell books than do something with which I wouldn’t be comfortable.

So you’re already twenty years at school. How do you manage to combine these two lines — creating and working at an academic institution?

Before I became Vice-Rector, I could manage all. Now it’s harder. In principle, I think there’s nothing better than when a designer or artist teaches and also actively creates because students keep him/her alert.

You’re always in connection with students, then. Could you compare them with your generation? How different is it for them after school?

If I’m supposed to compare it, then we were the “no future” generation. Although the freedom was fantastic, we’ve experienced a rebirth that few have the chance to live through. But the subsequent development was different: the Mečiar era, mafia murders — the feeling that everything collapsed. Businesses were going bankrupt, unemployment was massive, so we felt like we were going to enjoy the school and what next — no idea.

Already after such a short time during studies, the euphoria turned into depression?

Absolutely, but it was creeping, unconscious. We had a lot of fun at school, but we also worked a lot. We were even proactive, organising student research, consulting each other. We truly believed in art, and we wanted to do it. But it’s a fact we had no plan for the future at all.

Nowadays, students work a lot during their studies. Was it different before or did you also gain experience in the field or at least in a related industry during studies?

It wasn’t like that then. By the late nineties, it was possible to have a student job but not in the field, only in cafes and alike. On the one hand, it’s good students have the opportunity to work in their area even during their studies, but on the other hand, I’m sorry they don’t enjoy student life. I’ve got the feeling they’re more mature than we were. They come, consult, and have to go to work because they need to earn money for school.

It’s also getting us closer to the West. We used to see people having two jobs only in movies…

Exactly, I remember seeing some American film where they were dealing with a mortgage and had to have three jobs because of that. Now I’m experiencing the same, but back then — it seemed like complete fiction.

It also gives today’s students a much smoother transformation to professional life.

Yes, smooth, and primarily when they already work during studies; they’re building connections, often working with companies that later employ them.

In general, it’s about responsibility. Previously, the socialist state still had patronage. As if it still controlled people, needed to organise us, but it’s different now.

Everyone minds their own business. That self-responsibility is unbearable for some sometimes. Some can’t join in life, it’s hard.

You were still a child during socialism, so you didn’t see it to the fullest, but do you think this experience influenced your work or attitude?

I don’t know whether it’s related to socialism or because I grew up in a family where we lived modestly, but my parents really spent time with us. I had a fantastic childhood. We did a lot of things at home alone — DIY live from a young age. We repaired things, grew, and preserved food — we generated minimal waste weekly. Mum was making all kinds of stuff for home; she sewed, crocheted. We rarely bought clothes, only shoes. My father was a do-it-yourself guy. I learned all the handicrafts from my mother. And then I was always in the workshop with my father. That’s where I’ve seen improvising — if I don’t have something, I go to the junkyard, or I take a look in the workshop. It was the approach where no sophisticated material was necessary to make something useful and functional. I’ve kept this very pragmatic and practical approach to everyday things in my design.

That looks like current trends — the use of recycled materials, zero waste, and the like.

Exactly. This approach is currently very relevant. I’m very grateful that it worked that way then, and I don’t need to learn it now because I know it. I think it was a crucial thing for me. Especially in getting to the scene after school because then it was essential to break away from teachers and find own way. And I found my inspiration in DIY. I paradoxically felt ashamed of the breeding ground I had in myself at the beginning — in the sense if they knew that I, as a graduate artist, embroider and crochet at home. And then I told myself, why should I feel ashamed of something that actually makes a lot of sense. Suddenly, there was a shift in me, and I started to include the authenticity in my works, and it showed. The first collection, Dizajn od sporáka [Cooker-Based Design], was finally quite a success, it went around the whole of Europe. Although it was also interpreted differently than I originally intended.

From a purely hypothetical point of view: Had there been no change in regime, do you think your life would look differently? What would your works look like?

Maybe I would go back to restoration. It’s hard to say that if I needed to make a living, whether I’d take the uncompromising way or double-life with official and unofficial work as was the case with many before the Revolution. Life makes you do things you didn’t think possible before.

And as far as your pedagogical activities are concerned — do you think that you’d be able to start working at college so early after school? If you had to be a „comrade“?

I guess I couldn’t be a comrade. For example, I could be at ŠUP. There was much more freedom in art high schools. Probably not in college, I don’t know.

From the point of your work, do you think you’d treat it differently? Or if you did the same, would any of it be troublesome for the former regime?

My approach usually takes the form of trying to counterpoise the view of the majority. It’s a subconscious thing; I have to hold the mirror up and to give a different question. Is it really like this or will we try it differently? I sometimes ask myself unpleasant questions, and that would be irritating in the former regime. Now I sometimes ask myself if the current green approach isn’t just a trend for many. Do we really mean it?

The thing is that such matters need to become routine, not just a trend, unusual behaviour, but it must become normal again.

The change here also happened in emerging criticism of consumerism from the world of design in the nineties. But we welcomed consumerism at the time, we had been looking forward to it, and it finally arrived, and we were happy to have something to buy. There are still many countries in the world which don’t know the welfare, and they also want it, and that’s the problem. Why should they save if they don’t even know what it’s like not to? The decision must be conscious with a view of our future survival.

Sylvia Jokelová, product designer, lives and works in Bratislava, she makes a bold appearance in the scene of product and conceptual design. She has been long-term active as a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. She is the Head of the Studio of Experimental Design, and most importantly, works as the Vice-Rector for Grants and Project Activities of AFAD.

Interviewed by: Barbora Komarová, Mária Rišková
Translation: Katarína Kasalová

Rozhovor bol vytvorený pri príležitosti výstavy Velvet Generation konanej na Slovenskom veľvyslanectve v Londýne ako súčasť osláv 30. výročia Novembra ’89.

Portrét Sylvie Jokelovej v kancelárii Vysokej školy výtvarných umení v Bratislave, Slovensko  (© Šymon Kliman)
Portrét Sylvie Jokelovej v kancelárii Vysokej školy výtvarných umení v Bratislave, Slovensko (© Šymon Kliman)

Koľko rokov si mala v období prevratu a ako si to vtedy vnímala?

Vtedy som mala takmer 16 rokov. Bola som na ŠUP-ke v Kremnici, takže som bola ešte skoro dieťa, ale bývalý režim sme dosť intenzívne vnímali. Na ŠUP-ke sme boli taká „bunka“ – počúvali sme Kryla, zakázané veci a veľmi nás to bavilo. Ale potom, keď prišiel prevrat, neverili sme, že sa to deje. Bolo to spôsobené aj tým, že sme boli v Kremnici, je to malé mestečko, takže sme to sledovali akoby zdiaľky a iba cez médiá, cez jedinú televíziu. Stále sme neverili, že sa môže niečo také stať, že sa to zas nepotlačí, že Rusi nezasiahnu, a preto sme sa báli, že to nevyjde. A keď sa to prevalilo, bola to totálna eufória, veľmi sme sa tešili a ešte niekoľko mesiacov sme neverili, že sa to naozaj stalo.

Priamo v Kremnici sa to teda nijako zvlášť neprejavovalo?

Pamätám si, že bol generálny štrajk. Ľudia prišli, hoci nie v takom množstve. Malé mesto bolo veľmi špecifické. Tam si ľudia žili svoj vlastný život, záhradka bola dôležitejšia ako ísť niekam na demonštráciu. Mali sme slobodu, ale nijako zvlášť sa to nemenilo, život išiel svojím tempom ďalej. A čo sa týka školy, študovala som reštaurovanie, kde bola sloboda tvorby vlastne irelevantná, lebo sme robili s pamiatkami.

Je to zaujímavé aj z pohľadu malého mesta, ako to tam ľudia vnímali a prežívali, lebo väčšinou sa dozvedáme informácie z veľkých miest, centier udalostí.

Bolo to naozaj, ako keby si ľudia povedali: „Aha, no dobre, tak to máme, ideme ďalej, aj tak treba sadiť zemiaky.“ Mali jednoducho iný vzťah k životu, svoje tempo. Ako keby sa nič také dôležité nestalo. Ale pamätám, že môj starký bol presvedčený komunista. Bolo to zaujímavé, ako bol z toho strašne sklamaný. Aj z dôvodu, že sa prevalili viaceré veci, ktoré sa za socializmu stali a nevedelo sa o nich. On bol idealista a ani netušil o rôznych zločinoch, čo sa diali.

Od roku 1992 si študovala na VŠVU v Bratislave. V akom štúdiu si tam pokračovala?

Je to vtipný príbeh. Vedela som, že chcem pokračovať v reštaurovaní. Ale keďže som mala astmu a alergiu, lekárka mi neodporučila reštaurovanie a do prihlášky napísala šperk, takže mi vlastne odbor vybrala ona. Ja som nechcela ísť ani na prijímačky, bola som rozhodnutá, že chcem byť reštaurátorka. Nakoniec ma k tomu dotlačili rodičia.

Ako vyzeralo tvoje štúdium na VŠVU v deväťdesiatych rokoch? Keď si na to obdobie spomenieš, ako ho vnímaš – skrz školu, spoločenské nastavenie, pedagógov? Prejavovali sa na VŠVU pozostatky z bývalého režimu?

Práveže VŠVU bola na Slovensku jedna z mála vysokých škôl, kde sa všetko absolútne vymenilo. Takže to bol úplne nový, iný svet. Myslím si, že zo začiatku tam eufória bola. Všetko bolo možné a všetko sa aj robilo. Viac sme držali spolu, ako študenti sme boli stále v škole, jednoducho sme tam žili. Dnes už niečo také nevidím. Navyše bolo možné spoznávať zahraničie. Už boli aj výmenné pobyty, bolo to až nepredstaviteľné.

Ty si bola na takom pobyte?

Ja som na pobyte počas školy nebola, lebo vtedy ešte neboli na šperku vytvorené také väzby so zahraničnými školami, ale dosť sme chodili na návštevy škôl. Chodila som na rôzne šperkárske sympóziá, kde som sa stretávala s osobnosťami, o ktorých sme sa učili v škole, čo bolo asi oveľa viac, ako keby som išla niekam do školy. Boli to ľudia z profesionálnej scény, o ktorých sa teraz dočítame v knižkách, klasici.

Ktorý bol pre teba prvý zážitok, keď si išla niekam zo Slovenska?

Prvé bolo práve sympózium vo Švajčiarsku, v Alpách. Bol to obrovský kontrast. Bola som veľmi prekvapená, ako sa ľudia starajú o svoje prostredie, aký vzťah mali ľudia ku krajine. V každej dedine bola malá fabrika, kde ľudia mali prácu, všetko bolo ideálne. Toto bol asi prvý kultúrny šok.

Ľudia zo Západu mali záujem sem chodiť?

Vtedy sa práveže podarilo získať tie najväčšie hviezdy, napríklad Ruudt Peters, Peter Skubic. Pre nich to bola úplná exotika. Zaujímavé pre mňa bolo zistenie, že rovnako ako sme mali my propagandu, že Západ a Amerika je zlá, to isté fungovalo aj u nich. My sme boli pre nich ľudia, ktorí „zliezli zo stromov“ a boli prekvapení, že to tu normálne funguje, že máme televízor, základné veci.

Na prelome deväťdesiatych a nultých rokov sme robili cezhraničný projekt s Rakúšanmi, ktorí boli približne z našej generácie. Pamätám si, že keď prišli, nechceli tu nič jesť. Bolo to dôležité, že prišli a zistili, že je to tu v poriadku. Myslím si, že toto ruší všetky predsudky, keď človek na vlastnej koži pocíti, že sa nemá čoho báť. Na druhej strane bežní ľudia reagovali rôzne, istá xenofóbia tam bola. Báli sa, že príde vlna „gastarbeiterov“ z Východu, podobne ako vidíme dnes strach z imigrantov.

Keď hovoríš, že sem chodievali tie najväčšie hviezdy z odboru, ako ste sa k nim dostali?

Neviem úplne presne, ako to bolo v iných odboroch. Ale na šperku to bolo možné aj vďaka Antonovi Cepkovi, ktorý bol môj prvý pedagóg. Keď u nás „nastúpil“ na scénu, na Západe bol už hviezda. Cez jeho meno sme sa vedeli dostať kamkoľvek. Potom v tom pokračoval aj Karol Weisslechner, ktorý nastúpil, keď som bola vo štvrtom ročníku. „Otváranie dverí“ bolo vtedy asi najdôležitejším pedagogickým počinom.

Takže po prevrate začali fungovať výmeny a pobyty. Cestovali ste do zahraničia často?

Ani hneď po prevrate nebolo cestovanie úplne jednoduché. Spomínam si na nepríjemné prehliadky na hraniciach. Teraz nám príde normálne ísť si nakúpiť do Hainburgu. Vtedy sa na prechodoch stáli rady, celý autobus musel vystúpiť, všetko skontrolovali. Nebolo to príjemné. Druhá vec bolo robenie výstav, šialené papierovačky, muselo sa platiť za prenesenie diela cez hranice, dlho trvalo vybavenie povolení. Spomínam si, že sme raz celú výstavu preniesli cez hranice v žemliach.

V nultých rokoch záujem Západu potom ustúpil?

Myslím si, že jednak tým, že sa cestovanie uvoľnilo, sme pre nich už neboli exotika. Taktiež sme sa im začali vyrovnávať v určitých kultúrnych znakoch a boli sme na tej istej vlne. „Súťaž“ už bola skutočná, už nebolo výhodou byť z Východu, ale museli sme sa pobiť o miesto na slnku. Čo je dobré, veď to sme chceli. Ale je pravda, že „bitka“ je oveľa zložitejšia.

Čo sa týka tvojho odboru – vedela by si povedať, či nastal nejaký rozvoj, či už v technológiách, materiáloch alebo koncepciách od čias tvojho štúdia?

V koncepciách určite, keďže materiál nebol dôležitý. Dôležitá bola zmena rozmýšľania o veciach, že to nie je len o kompozícii a bravúrnosti spracovania, ale že to, čo robím, má mať nejaký zmysel. To bolo pre mňa dôležité zistenie.

Ako si sa od štúdia šperku nakoniec dostala k produktovému dizajnu? Začala si sa tomu venovať už na škole?

Karol Weisslechner svoj nový ateliér nazval S+M+L_XL, čo znamenalo rôzne veľkosti od šperku po architektúru. Bola tam teda oveľa väčšia sloboda, čo mi úžasne vyhovovalo, keďže som mala potrebu materiálovej slobody, premýšľania, mala som rôzne koncepty, pričom nie každý sa hodil práve na šperk. Takže som rýchlo prešla od šperku a začala pracovať na dizajnérskych objektoch.

Čo si robila po skončení štúdia?

Hneď po škole som rok pracovala v galérii Priestor pre súčasné umenie. Potom som úspešne prešla výberovým konaním a odvtedy som na škole, čo je už dvadsať rokov.

To, že si išla na školu, bolo z finančných dôvodov alebo kvôli pedagogickým, či akademickým ambíciám?

Priznám sa, že vtedy som potrebovala prácu, pričom bolo naozaj ťažké nájsť niečo v odbore. Najprv som to považovala len za prácu, ale úplne som tomu prepadla, našla som v tom ďalší zmysel. Na druhej strane to bolo aj tým, že som sa venovala viac konceptuálnej tvorbe, čo je oblasť, ktorou sa podľa mňa nedá živiť, alebo aspoň nie u nás. Alebo možno som nemala také sebavedomie.

Ak by si začínala teraz, bolo by to iné?

Asi by som bola odvážnejšia. Cítim to teraz na študentoch, že si jednoducho veria. Je to možno osobnostný rys, ale je to spôsobené aj výchovou. Vychovávali nás k absolútnej úcte k autoritám, k skromnosti, čo sa na nás nejakým spôsobom podpísalo. Takže som ani nikdy neverila, že by bolo možné sa živiť len dizajnom. Alebo by som musela robiť kompromisy, a to zas neviem. V určitých veciach som nekompromisná a radšej by som išla napríklad predávať knižky, než by som mala robiť niečo, s čím by som nebola v pohode.

Už si teda dvadsať rokov na škole. Ako zvládaš zladiť tieto dve pracovné línie – tvorbu a prácu v akademickej inštitúcii?

Pokým som ešte nebola prorektorka, tak som to v pohode stíhala. Teraz je to horšie. V zásade si myslím, že nie je nič lepšie, ako keď dizajnér alebo výtvarník učí a zároveň má aj aktívnu tvorbu, pretože študenti ho držia v strehu.

Takže máš neustále kontakt so študentmi. Vedela by si ich porovnať s tvojou generáciou? V čom to majú po škole iné?

Keď to mám porovnať, tak my sme boli generácia „no future“. Síce tam bola úžasná sloboda, zažili sme prerod, ktorý má málokto možnosť prežiť. Ale nasledujúci vývoj bol iný – mečiarizmus, mafiánske vraždy – pocit, že sa všetko zrútilo. Krachovali podniky, bola obrovská nezamestnanosť, takže sme boli v nálade, že si školu užijeme a čo potom – nevieme.

Už po krátkom čase počas štúdia sa teda z eufórie stala depresia?

Totálna, bola ale veľmi plíživá, podvedomá. My sme si síce veľmi na škole užívali, ale veľa sme aj robili. Dokonca sme boli iniciatívni a sami sme si robili študentské prieskumy, navzájom sme si konzultovali veci. Naozaj sme verili umeniu a chceli sme to robiť. Ale je pravda, že sme vôbec nemali plán do budúcna.

V dnešnej dobe počas štúdia študenti veľa pracujú. Bolo to predtým iné alebo ste tiež už počas školy získavali prax v odbore alebo aspoň príbuznom odvetví?

Vtedy to nebolo. Ku koncu deväťdesiatych rokov sa dalo brigádovať, ale nie v odbore, skôr v kaviarňach a podobne. Na jednej strane je dobré, že študenti majú možnosť robiť vo svojom odbore už počas školy, ale zas mi je ľúto, že si neužijú študentský život. Mám pocit, že sú oveľa dospelejší, ako sme boli my. Prídu, odkonzultujú a musia ísť do práce, lebo si musia zarobiť na školu.

Zároveň je to tiež priblíženie sa Západu. Kedysi sme to videli iba vo filmoch, že ľudia tam majú dva joby…

Presne, pamätám si, keď som videla nejaký americký film, kde riešili hypotéku a kvôli tomu museli mať tri zamestnania a teraz zažívam to isté, ale vtedy mi to prišlo ako úplná fikcia.

Tým pádom majú asi súčasní študenti nájazd do profesionálneho života plynulejší.

Áno, plynulý a obzvlášť, keď už robia počas školy, získavajú kontakty, často aj pracujú s firmami, ktoré ich potom zamestnajú.

Vo všeobecnosti je to o zodpovednosti. Predtým mal socialistický štát stále patronát. Ako keby stále ľudí kontroloval, potreboval nás organizovať, ale teraz je to iné.

Každý je sám za seba. Tá zodpovednosť samého za seba je pre niekoho niekedy neúnosná. Niektorí sa nevedia v živote zaradiť, je to ťažké.

Počas socializmu si bola ešte dieťa, takže si to nevnímala úplne naplno, ale myslíš si, že táto skúsenosť ovplyvnila tvoju tvorbu či životný postoj?

Neviem, či to súviselo so socializmom alebo to bolo tým, že som vyrastala v rodine, kde sme síce žili skromne, ale rodičia sa nám naozaj venovali. Mali sme úžasné detstvo. Veľa vecí sme si robili doma sami, „do it yourself“ v priamom prenose od malička. Veci sa opravovali, pestovali a zavárali sa potraviny, za týždeň sme mali minimálny odpad. Mama vyrábala rôzne veci do domácnosti, šila, háčkovala. Málokedy sme kupovali oblečenie, iba topánky. Otec bol zase domáci kutil. Mama ma naučila všetky ručné práce. S otcom som zas bola neustále v dielni. Tam som videla tú schopnosť improvizácie, že ak niečo nemám, idem na smetisko alebo sa pohrabem v dielni. Bol to prístup, že nemusím mať sofistikovaný materiál, aby som robila, čo je potrebné a funkčné. Tento veľmi pragmatický a funkčný prístup k veciam dennej potreby mi v dizajne ostal.

Tak to sa celkom podobá na súčasné trendy – používanie recyklovaných materiálov, zero waste a podobne.

Presne tak. Tento prístup je momentálne veľmi aktuálny. Som veľmi vďačná, že to vtedy takto fungovalo a nemusím sa to teraz učiť, lebo to poznám. Myslím si, že toto bola pre mňa kľúčová vec. Najmä v nástupe na scénu po škole, lebo vtedy bolo dôležité sa odpútať od pedagógov a nájsť si tú svoju cestu. A ja som našla svoju inšpiráciu práve v „do it yourself“. V tom podhubí, ktoré som v sebe mala a za ktoré som sa na začiatku paradoxne hanbila – v zmysle „keby vedeli, že ja ako vyštudovaná výtvarníčka si doma vyšívam a háčkujem“. Ale potom som si povedala, že prečo by som sa mala hanbiť za niečo, čo malo vlastne obrovský zmysel. Zrazu sa to u mňa úplne otočilo, keď som to do tvorby zapojila a zrazu tam bola presne tá autenticita, ktorú je cítiť. Prvá kolekcia Dizajn od sporáka bola nakoniec veľmi úspešná, pochodila celú Európu. Hoci to bolo interpretované aj inak, ako som to pôvodne myslela.

Z čisto hypotetického hľadiska – ak by zmena režimu neprebehla, myslíš, že by tvoj život vyzeral inak? Ako by vyzerala tvoja tvorba?

Možno by som sa vrátila k reštaurátorstvu. Ťažko povedať, že ak by som sa potrebovala uživiť, či by som išla nekompromisnou cestou alebo dvojitou a mala by som oficiálnu a neoficiálnu tvorbu ako mnohí pred revolúciou. Život človeka prinúti k veciam, o ktorých ani netuší.

A čo sa týka tvojej pedagogickej činnosti – myslíš si, že by si mohla tak skoro po škole hneď začať pôsobiť na vysokej škole? Ak by si musela byť „súdružka“?

To by som asi nemohla, byť súdružkou. Mohla by som byť napríklad na ŠUP-ke. Na ŠUP-kách to bolo oveľa slobodnejšie. Na vysokej škole asi nie, neviem.

Z hľadiska tvojej tvorby, myslíš si, že by si k nej pristupovala inak? Alebo ak by si robila to isté, bolo by niečo z toho pre bývalý režim problematické?

Môj prístup väčšinou spočíva v tom, že sa snažím robiť protiváhu väčšinovému názoru. Je to podvedomá vec, musím nastaviť zrkadlo a skúsiť sa opýtať inak. Naozaj je to takto alebo to skúsime inak? Aj sama sebe niekedy kladiem nepríjemné otázky, a to by bolo asi v bývalom režime iritujúce. Dnes sa niekedy pýtam, či nie je aktuálny ekologický prístup pre mnohých iba „trend“. Myslíme to naozaj úprimne?

Ide o to, aby takéto veci boli normálne, nech to nie je trend, neobvyklé správanie, ale musí to byť znovu normálne.

Zmena u nás nastala aj v tom, že sa v deväťdesiatych rokoch v dizajne vo svete začala objavovať kritika konzumu. Ale my sme v tom čase chceli konzum, tešili sme sa, že konečne to sem prišlo a môžeme si všetko kúpiť. Na svete je ešte stále veľa krajín, ktoré ten blahobyt nepoznali a aj oni ho chcú, čo je problém. Prečo by sa mali uskromňovať, keď oni ešte nezažili, čo je to neuskromňovať sa. To rozhodnutie musí byť vedomé, s ohľadom na naše budúce prežitie.

Sylvia Jokelová, produktová dizajnérka, žije a pracuje v Bratislave, je výrazným zjavom na scéne produktového dizajnu a konceptuálneho dizajnu. Dlhodobo vyučuje na Vysokej škole výtvarných umení v Bratislave, kde je vedúcou ateliéru Experimentálny dizajn a predovšetkým je činná vo vedení školy ako prorektorka pre pre grantovú a projektovú činnosť.

Zhovárali sa: Barbora Komarová, Mária Rišková

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