“The Up and Coming Award for the 2017 Next Wave festival was awarded to Jana Orlová, performer and poet, who denies the borders between literature, visual art and theatre with a natural lightness.”
“I like preparing performances tailored to specific spaces – the space is something like a living entity for me, absolutely crucial for the resulting effect. I work in this same manner with audiences and moods – we could also call it the energy of the present moment, the here and now. The visual art branch of the performance has a certain fluidity; it is not improvisation, more live action, reacting to the given constellation. It demands openness and an ability to keep one’s intention in various situations. Personally, I see performance as a conceptual discipline with roots in a ritual perception of the world.”
(From an interview in the Next Wave festival newspaper)
"The central topic of the poetry book is a relationship between a man and a woman. With this topic, we would expect (and would be willing to withstand) poems that are strongly lyrical, poetic, emotional. In Újedě, however, the opposite is true: the short poems use very few imagery techniques, the texts seem impersonal, though they are usually in the first person. The author prefers contrast to reflection. Objectivity and impersonality are emphasised by the choice of register; words like “fuck” or “cock” do not seem vulgar, but rather alienated. There is no love – there is a sexual relationship. The lover has no positive characteristics, except for the fact that he’s a good “fuck”.
In contrast to the above, the poems in Újedě are in fact very intimate. Their striking corporeality and absolute openness (important themes include bodily orifices, intake and excretion, pain) seems to correspond with Jana Orlová’s work as a performer, in which her own body – in its intimacy, restrictions and desires – is one of the elementary modes of expression. The woman is both the újeď (i.e. bait in hunter’s terminology) and an objective observer: “in my life I am a foreigner / an observer of my body." She can be cynical, ironic, mean.
Karel Škrabal refers to Orlová as a hunter, a predator lying in wait for her prey. But she herself is also hurt, affected (“What I cannot wash off / I will scratch off with one wave”), the collection speaks of grief, of abandonment in the unwelcoming environment of hotel rooms and snack bars, of a lack of fulfillment. The author avoids demonstrative provocation, as well as moralising, judging and asking for compassion. One also cannot interpret the collection as (only) a testimony of the times, reducing relationships to non-commital fucking about.
What is perhaps more important is what we can reflect on when reading Jana Orlová’s bare, cut back, but also semantically ambiguous and ultimately very striking lines: various forms of love (of course), intimacy and corporeality (what we reveal, what we conceal), relationships to others and to ourselves (here too we reveal and conceal), our own strengths and weaknesses, and the limits of the freedom we are willing or able to give ourselves."
Andrea Popelová (from review of poetry book Újedě in Host 8/2017)
Authors’ Reading Month 2016: Just Chuck It In, Will You?
Poetry translated into Hungarian: http://szlavtextus.blog.hu/2013/07/05/cseh_erotikus_kolteszet_jana_orlova_versei
The method of presentation, i.e. one photo and a short text, is reminiscent of the minimalist presentations of Jiří Kovanda. This approach uses the viewer’s imagination in sophisticated ways. The performance takes place slightly differently in each person’s head. The storytelling and mythical content is much more important and true than material reality.
... Orlová needs situations that are crowded, spaces that embody a wealth of experience, because she works with the accumulated energy of places. She draws out old spirits from the invisible world into the light, to be possessed by them or to extinguish them. She embodies the ancient archetype of Anima.
... The skill of a good medium lies in the ability to focus fully and at the same time step away from the self. Jana Orlová is without doubt a good medium, and this intensifies the uniqueness of her work.
... Performance is to the visual arts what poetry is to literature or a Porsche to cars. As a medium, performance is light, not burdened by matter so that it becomes heavier than necessary. It is like dance, like the wind, blowing wherever it wants. But this only makes it more able to express deep principles. Performance is living natura muerta. A dynamic still life of a figure in a psychic landscape.
... The cult of the shadow of death is the true cult of our time. Many think that Mammon and the pursuit thereof is our god, but I think that money is simply pieces of paper and numbers. The high value we place on money, the accumulation and glorification of it, simply conceals a deeper and more terrible divinity, the existence of which we try to deny. Lady Death. A coldly seductive, delicate flower, smiling at the bottom of every human experience. Life is one side of the coin, death is the other. Together they form a Mobius strip. A Paradox. Reality is flying through the air powered by the energy of opposites, and logic limps behind on the crutches of its claims and beliefs. Logic has no power to bind reality. There is no life in logic. The reality of life is secretly powered by death.
...Orlová is aware of the power of the statuesque beauty and sparkling intelligence contained in the neural tensions of her body. She intentionally combines her own beauty with ugliness, which increases her appeal. When she eats raw liver, pulls mussels out of her vagina, swallows snake skin, allows herself to be strangled, undressed, smeared with clay, or becomes food for roaches, she acts as an archetype.
... The series of performances entitled Black Woman reminds us of the hermetic path to self-initiation that the adept enters through voluntary hardship. A performance by Jana Orlová is a fast, a meditation, contemplation and orgy. It negates thinking in favour of knowing. It broadens psychical layers. It resonates with the ancient song of life. Orlová’s art liberates the animal soul of each of us.
The poetry book Sniff the Fire by Jana Orlová makes it clear that the author knows how the word operates in poetry. It is as though she senses how each word creates a delicate force field that fills the spaces between. The balance between the said and the unsaid is experienced naturally, the inclination to describe phenomena as they appear disappears. Instead, experience itself arises and reveals phenomena for what they are. I find this rare. In addition, the alternation of the Yin and Yang of the unsaid and said in textual form creates tensions and innovative combinations that force us to return to the poems.
Ladislav Puršl (from review of poetry book Sniff the Fire in Host 8/2017)