Štěpánka Sigmundová

Czech Republic

Funding organization
AIR Futura
Deutsch-Tschechischer Zukunftsfonds



The main focus of my artistic work are two closely-linked long-term projects portraying the overall effort to collect and preserve memories.

This effort arose after the floods in June 2009 in the house in which I was born. One of the few things saved from the ground floor were photographs of my great-uncles serving in the RAF during World War II. After washing and drying muddy photographs and diaries – the vast majority of other subjects ending up in waste containers – it became clear to me that photography is the only trustworthy medium. I began to obsessively photograph everything around me to preserve and maintain the memories. Over time, the auto-therapeutic effect faded, but the interest and fascination with the medium itself prevailed.

“To collect photography is to collect the world.”/ “Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.”/ Susan Sontag, On Photograph

Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
THE LAST WHITE RHINO, 2018, embroidered patch
Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
Display Cabinet No. 96, from the series National Museum I., 2013, medium format analogue photography
Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
2 External Memory (2009-_), Exhibition view (detail) at National Gallery Prague (Diploma work MA) (2015)
A) External memory
Digital and analog photo archive: since 2009, currently about 20,000 photos. Photographs are continually printed in 9×6,5 cm format. The archive is built up as an attempt to describe, capture, and preserve memories in the instant form of photography, both digital and analog. All photos are selected in order to create a compact database full of numerous memories of places, people, and situations. External memory serves as a backup of my own mind.
Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
Souvenirs_Treasures Cabinet (1994-_), Exhibition view at National Gallery Prague (Diploma work MA) (2015) photo by Adam Krena
B) Souvenirs / Treasures
Collection of objects (since 1994): is built upon the same principle as a database of photographs, with the difference that an object can serve as a memory trigger and can engage multiple senses simultaneously, including smell, touch, sight. If “to collect photographs is to collect the world itself” (Sontag), then collecting pieces of the world is even more truthful. The subject is tangible evidence of memory, proof of its authenticity.
Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
Různozubec Japonský, from series National Museum II. – Noach’s Arc, 2016 – medium format analogue photography
C) National Museum
The project shows the empty backstage of the National Museum with some references to previous expositions. The emptiness is a symbol of secrecy, which is open to further exploration. The collection is taken on analog negative material in the absence of visitors during one of the biggest reconstructions of the National Museum. The institution of the National Museum operates within a generally familiar mechanism: it reflects the contemporary political atmosphere of the present while distributing to the nation a specific interpretation of its own past.
Artist Štěpánka Sigmundová
NASA VASE II., 2017, inglased ceramics, 30×20 cm, photo by Adam Krena
In the end, our conduct is too small to be noticed in the scope of the universe. In my latest works, I try to recreate the efforts of mankind in space. I follow The Man on the Moon traces (What We Left on the Moon), and humanity’s many successes and failures with space travel (Falling MIR). This is all well – documented but there are still people who don’t believe that we ever left Mother Earth and that the Apollo 11 mission was directed by S. Kubrick with his feet on the ground. So I dove into history and discovered ancient ceramics that were dug from the ground to find traces of our ancestors. We have links to our civilization’s history, thanks to everyday objects (NASA Vases).

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