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Karta polaire

It is Kveta Kazmukova’s hand, which is holding the old newspaper clipping against the cool sunlight emanating from the window of her room in Berlin. Kveta happened upon this very newspaper clip ten years ago, sitting in a tour bus driving across France on one of her many travels. And she had held on to it ever since.

Slovakian-born, the artist had lost her roots early in her life – moving from place to place with her parents, who were struggling to make a living on a destabilized, post-revolutionary Balkan Peninsula. Most of Kveta’s memories of that time have merged into a blur. Yet, what stuck with her – and would inspire her art practice many years later – were tiny architectures scattered across the devastated areas she grew up in: Catholic chapels, which could be found all over Greece.

That November day in the bus, a random newspaper picture showing a camp in an unnamed polar landscape, resonated with this memory. Tightly nestled together in a nightly ice desert and crowned by mystical green polar lights, they seemed to defy the deadly cold temperatures they were exposed to. Although just simple, temporary structures, the camp’s little half spheres encapsulated something about the Greek chapels the artist had frequented in her childhood.

Having led the life of a modern nomad for many years, Kveta started to think about the idea of a ‘chapel designed for travel’. Her research led her to Hagia Sophia, which was originally built as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) back in the sixth century A.D., and would thereafter provide the prototype for all churches in the East. Kveta was surprised how little imagination it took to translate the Hagia Sophia’s daring dome structure into a ‘mobile’ tent architecture. “A church – whether a chapel or a cathedral, whether crafted in stone, or even the light fabric of a tent”, Kveta says, “is just something we create for ourselves, which aims at realizing that, which it shows”.


Kveta Kazmuková (b. 1984 in former Czechoslovakia) is a visual artist who lives and works in Berlin.


Text by Katharina Weinstock