The wooden sarcophagus Bird Mission (1998), which the artist prepared for himself as his final casket, has already flown around the world on several night events. For example, in the double happening Love in circulo vitioso in finito secundi milenii, which was held in 1998 in Landsberg and then in Brno, Kristek rested in this magical casket for forty minutes and then, in the end, stepped out once more into the light.
“The outwardly eccentric appearing artist with rich inner experience, a broad view and humility towards life is fully occupied with the original project of Kristek’s Thaya Glyptotheque. When you speak to him, he allows you to peer into his fantasy world for a while and then releases you gently back to reality. You approach him as an incomplete pupa, and leave as a wonderful butterfly.” (1)
Man undergoes intensive preparation for death, even in the course of his life. The interest in death and dying is associated with the uncertainty of the fate of human existence and the reality that death was omnipresent in day-to-day life even in the middle ages. Man has been accompanied by such ideas as memento mori (remember your death) and mors certa, hora incerta (death is certain, its hour is uncertain), which reminded the mortal not to waste time, nor strive for worldly goals and not to accumulate material wealth, as these are expressions of vanity and folly, for one can take nothing material from this world. In creating his Bird Mission sarcophagus, Kristek followed on from this idea. The cenotaph, a symbolic tomb, expresses his preparation for death and meaningful lifelong utilisation of life. In the modern world, dying and death are virtually excluded from life. Seeing the dying and the dead is no longer a common matter. To speak of death is considered morbid and distasteful. In this way, the deafness and blindness with regard to death shunts the dying and preparation for death behind the scenes of social life.
Text: Barbora Půtová
1 Peterková, Ľuba (5th September 2005): Kristek vás promění v motýla. Znojemsko, p. 10.
Barbora Půtová (born 1985) is a Czech anthropologist and art historian lecturing at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague.
She deals with history of culture, artwork and cultural heritage. Other fields of her expert interest include historical anthropology, visual anthropology and anthropology of art.
She has published dozens of articles and experts studies as well as several expert monographs such as Pravěké umění (Prehistoric Art, co-authors Jean Clottes and Václav Soukup, 2011), Félicien Rops: enfant terrible dekadence (Félicien Rops: Enfant Terrible of Decadence, 2013), Kristkova podyjská glyptotéka (Kristek Thaya Glyptoheque, co-author Iveta K. Pavlovičová, 2013), The Genesis of Creativity and the Origin of the Human Mind (co-edited by Václav Soukup, 2015) or Královská cesta: všední i sváteční život v proměnách času (The Royal Route: Ordinary and Festive Life Over the Course of Time, 2016).
In her monograph Félicien Rops she offers the first comprehensive view of the life and work of one of the most prominent representatives of decadence and symbolism; in her last book Královská cesta (The Royal Route) she writes about the creation, development, meaning and historical changes of the Royal Route in Prague. In her book Skalní umění (Rock Art, 2015), she published the results of her field research of Palaeolithic art that she carried out at archaeological sites in France and Portugal.
At presents she is carrying out research of African rock art in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.