A wee bit of Heritage

Galerie mladých 13 01 — 26 02
opening — 12 1 2022

The word wee is a Scottish equivalent of the English little. The title A Wee Bit of Heritage reflects an effort to offer a little peek into the cultural heritage of a northern town Wick with a population of nearly nine thousand people. The town used to be a strategic location for fishing and also the main port for the north of Scotland. That situation has, however, changed in recent years: herrings had been gone for decades, crabbing is no longer as profitable as it used to be, the nuclear power plant is shut down and one of the few things that does work and is attractive for tourists is the distillery, nuclear archive, and The Wick Heritage Museum. The museum is run by elderly volunteers and every city resident knows it well and visits it at least once a year. The legacy of the place is carefully preserved in collections of second-hand objects, photos and trinkets in vitrines or fill entire rooms and are accompanied by often non-functioning videos and by the omnipresent air fresheners. 

The dedication with which the volunteers work to preserve their own history is moving and overpowering. Anna Tesařová explores in her lyrical documentation of the museum the power of pictures and the desire not to be forgotten. 

The installation in Galerie mladých connects the topic of preserving history in images and objects with Anna’s interest in storytelling and mythology or magic. Alongside the Wick Heritage Museum’s promotional material in vitrines, we can find collections of local tales and myths, as well as displays of natural history or objects of a ritual character. The Groatie Buckie shell brings luck only if it is found, it is not a good idea to give it or sell it as it loses its magical power. Three knots on a rope conceal the power of a natural element, which is, according to legend, controlled by the wind witch. Anna identifies with her in several performances and her costume likewise becomes a museum artifact.

Even though the numerous topics of the exhibition could take many forms and it could also conceptualize the issue of museology, the impact of climate change or the sustainable use of natural resources, they are only peripheral. Anna Tesařová does not consider herself a critic and an eco-activist but rather an archeologist and chronicler, for whom sustainability and respect for people and surrounding nature, wherever in the world it may be, is a matter of course. As an archeologist she digs deeper, observing every layer and the Wick Museum in its context is a great object of study. Its trading history is closely interlinked with the sea and the wind, and its cultural memory goes back to magic, the Vikings, Celts, and witch hunts. In the video, A Wee Bit of Heritage, we witness a twofold preservation of memory; through the perspective of images and sounds recorded by Anna we observe the place’s history articulated by people who have also never experienced it.