Portrait with Protective Facemask – Petra Malá Miller

Portrait with Protective Facemask – Petra Malá Miller

Portrait with Protective Facemask: Living in the Zone – Petra Malá Miller

Portrait with Protective Facemask seeks to address the personal and communal experience of living near to Dukovany, Czech Republic, a geopolitically contentious nuclear site that operated concurrently with the catastrophe at Chernobyl in 1986. The village of my youth is located on the western fringe of Dukovany’s emergency evacuation zone, an amorphous region surrounding one of Europe’s largest active nuclear power generating stations.

Portrait with Protective Facemask is part of Living in the Zone, a larger body of work I began ten years ago. My work begins with recollection, with childhood memories formed while living near to and in fear of Dukovany’s reactors. I add symbolic residue to the past by staging scenes from my childhood in the present day.

The textile works are modelled on the protective facemasks that are distributed to inhabitants who live within the emergency evacuation zone. Worn clothing, tablecloths, bed linen, and other domestic materials collected from my home are used to make them. With the exception of the materials I use, the masks I make are replicas of the actual protective facemasks that each individual in the zone receives.

Living in proximity to Dukovany and Chernobyl opened my eyes to the complex relations between nuclear power generation, everyday life and its impact on individuals, communities, and all living things. I aim to cast a lyrical if also steadfast light upon the long shadows cast by Dukovany’s and Chernobyl’s towering reactors

Artist Bio:

Petra Malá Miller is a Czech Canadian artist. She earned her MFA from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, 2008. In 2009, she received the ESSL Museum Award for Contemporary Art, Klosterneuburg, Vienna. She received Canada Council for the Arts and Alberta Foundation for the Arts awards for her photography and is represented in several collections including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Josef Sudek – PPF Art collection and others. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Europe, the United States and in Canada including: Portraits in Light, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, 2015; The Intimate Circle in Contemporary Czech Photography, Landskrona Museum, Sweden, 2015; Museum of Modern Art and the City Gallery of Prague, Czech Republic; House of Art, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, 2013; The Voice Reached Us Through the Floor, but the Words Themselves Were Lost, Harbourfront Centre for the Arts, Toronto, 2013, Trianon Gallery, Lethbridge, 2012, and the Jiri Svestka Gallery, Prague, 2011; On the Threshold, Jiri Svestka Gallery, Berlin, 2011; Czech It, Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, 2009.

 The artist wishes to acknowledge the support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts, and to thank Arianna Richardson for her technical assistance.

Date:November 20th, 2021  -  January 15th, 2022


Location:Casa - Main Gallery

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The cover of the Spring/Summer 2024 Casa Program Guide with a marigold cover and paper flower collage.

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