Eva Heyd Essay

Eva Heyd Essay

Eva Heyd
Bio and images

It almost seems Eva Heyd is trying to squeeze at least three incarnations into one lifetime. She left the country of her birth, now the Czech Republic, in 1985 during a period of repression, first living briefly in Italy and then settling in the United States. “When I came here I suddenly felt that this is the country that could be home,” she recalls.

However, Heyd, a Fall 2006 Resident Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America, once again lives in the land of her birth. “I have two citizenships. I feel like I am a schizophrenic person.” She laughs. “I miss New York. The city is exciting and has so many contrasting situations and so much energy. It is an extremely interesting subject, but as I am getting older, I am much happier in the country, feeling natural things and the rain.”

She maintains a small apartment in Prague: “There’s a lot of culture happening there!” But her home base is a “very cute historical town with a Renaissance castle and beautiful woods all around.” She has a sheep and two dogs, Airedales, whose family life that once included eleven puppies will be the subject of a children’s book she’s writing. Writing for publication in Czech is another reincarnation for Heyd. Before moving to the US, she was a professional writer for ten years at an architectural magazine. In the States, she did not feel as confident of her English skills and turned to photography as a reliable source of income.

She documented art for artists and major publications. In another mode, she used photography as an expressive form, soon transcending two-dimensions to contextualize her images within objects. “I was trying to show that memory writes itself into objects.” This idea initially expressed itself in low reliefs, first executed in papier-mâché and layered photographs. She’s used a variety of materials, often slumping and fusing glass imprinted with photographs, work which is the basis of her CGCA residency. Considering her background as a writer, it’s not surprising that she’s made books with pages of glass and designed other structures displaying layered or serial images.

A current theme is the Faust myth: the man who sells his soul for knowledge. For Heyd this archetype has a contemporary resonance both political and ecological and perhaps the fires of hell find an echo in the fire which melts glass. In Faust Inspected, she uses photographs of a box which she brought through customs. “I told them it contained a glass piece and they had to open it. They put their fingerprints all over it and then they rewrapped it with all this tape and they put stamps all over it.” Pictures of the burning box emblazoned with customs forms appears on glass sculpture. The title Fahrenheit 911 alludes to book burning (censorship) and the atmosphere of fear and suspicion generated by the climate of terrorism.

An image of a burning house represents “the fate of the damned person.” She believes that when humans destroy their own creations, nature, and, ultimately, themselves, “we make our own hell.”

Contrasts between European landscape, which has been densely settled for centuries, and that in the US is the basis of a series provisionally entitled “Land Energy.” This is part of a larger project Heyd may call “Overwritten Landscape,” a meditation on the way geographies are altered by human activities. In Europe, “every inch is somehow touched by people.” These activities have not always been positive. In the Czech Republic, she is visually engaged by large slag heaps from silver mines and uranium mines that were operated by camps of political prisoners.

In the US, she found a lot of “virgin country, huge horizons … green and so luscious and so beautiful; very open and inviting.” But increasingly this beauty has been overlooked and destroyed, “symbolic of the society generally. The people [of the United States] are playing with evil and destroying human values.” Heyd was relieved to leave American mall culture for less commercialized Czech society.

“I hate the whole consumption process,” she says. She prefers old furniture and things which have known generations of use. She made some of her own furniture from old wooden molds for elevator parts. New things “are kind of boring. They don’t have any life yet.”

Heyd’s deeply-felt critique of contemporary technology and society extends to a rejection of computer-manipulated photography—at least for her own work. She uses a camera and prints in the darkroom. Although her photographs are sometimes abstract and she recognizes that a photograph is “more or less an idea, an image,” she feels that it exists in the world of the object, “of something you can touch.” Perhaps for this reason, she never uses the same photograph in different artworks. For herself she rejects the “small box” (the computer as an art form) “It’s just very unreal for me.”

But she does not totally reject technology in her work. She plans to make a piece incorporating neon at CGCA. It will suggest a box of energy with the yolk of an egg in the center and little hair like filaments of green coming up through a crack in the top.

“Photography has very much this moment of authenticity. It is not a picture of your mind usually; it reflects the real world.” She prefers installations which she can construct with glass and photography. “When I started to play with the three-dimensional aspect of the image and putting photography into new situations, I was trying to show that this new reality depends on our decision about what we are going to do with it.”