Interview: Spy

The woman behind Žižkov's Bedroom Gallery on the junk in her trunk, the joys of dressing up in a monkey costume and the challenges of running an underground art space

Kate Kunst: Why are you called Spy? What is your real name?

Spy: I was called "super secret spy girl" in high school because there is nothing secretive or covert about me. I can't lie, I'm clumsy, and I couldn't hide in a crowd to save my life. I am the worst spy, which makes it the perfect name. It's funny the way people trip out and ask what my "real" name is. What's "real"? I have a couple of different names other than Spy, but none of them are real.

KK: Do you spy on people? If so, what have you discovered about others while observing from a distance?

Spy: My brain activity is like a three-ring circus on the back of a flatbed truck driving down the yellow brick road. I'm not a voyeur because I'm much too involved with my own life to seriously observe others. However, I have discovered a lot about people through my general disconnection from them. Mostly, I learned how to be a better person.

KK: What is the Bedroom Gallery?

Spy: It's a conceptual art space existing to transcend language, money, and other conventional ways of connecting and communicating.

KK: Why did you choose Prague?

Spy: It's hard to say, exactly. I am extremely impulsive. I saw the film Daisies (Sedmikrásky) and went to Prague on the thrust of an inspiration. I felt the youthful energy and decided to stay and create something incredible.

KK: Your first solo show, The Junk in my Trunk, is on at the Bedroom at the moment. The show is a collection of memories from your life. Why do you call it junk? Do you intend to trash it after the show or is it recycled?

Spy: No, "the junk in my trunk" is a metaphor for my personal baggage, emotional and physical. The show is extremely personal, but in the most abstract way. Pretty clever, if I do say so.

KK: What else do you do? I heard recently you dressed up as a monkey and sang onstage.

Spy: [Laughs] I do a lot of different stuff. I really can't limit myself to one form of expression. The monkey performance was really fun. I sang Baby I'm A Star and asked the audience for spare change. The performance was basically a symbolic illustration of how artists are forced to exist.

KK: The next show at Bedroom is by the "Foto Klub". What's that?

Spy: It's a group of photographers who live and work in Prague but are originally from other places. In this show, Alexis, Jeff, Minna, Lizzy and myself examine what it is to be "foreign".

KK: Is the show aimed at a foreign audience? Why would Czechs go and see an exhibit about foreigners?

Spy: There is no particular target audience other than people who are interested in cultural diversity.

KK: On May 30th, you'll mark Bedroom's first anniversary. Prague is a difficult town to crack, especially in the arts. How will you celebrate this feat?

Spy: We're going to have a party - live performances, live art and some surprises - good stuff, in general. I hope to unify the Žižkov community as well as spotlight the gallery, and dance under the TV tower in celebration of one hard-ass year.

KK: How do you keep the momentum going? You don't make money off the gallery and the local press rarely writes about or reviews exhibits in "underground" galleries. Isn't the gallery a monkey on your back, in some ways?

Spy: I don't know but, boy oh boy, I'm tired…

The opening reception for the Foto Klub's Foreign exhibit takes place at the Bedroom Gallery on Wednesday, May 12th from 6:30pm. The show runs until June 27th.

Bedroom Gallery
Fibichova 4, Prague 3
Open: Thu - Sat 14:00 - 20:00

Photos of Spy by Minna Pyyhkala

Video on YouTube

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