b. 1978, Prague, Czech Republic
Spring Equinox (2009) explores the universal and eternal cycle of rebirth by depicting the traditional Slavic Easter rituals that mark the transition from winter to spring; from loss to renewal. The film shifts from documentary-style footage of folkloric dress and dance practices in contemporary Moravia to dreamlike sequences incorporating fertility symbols such as the egg and the hare.
Spring Equinox is presented in two distinct parts. For the first, Bušková worked closely with the people of Ratiškovice, one of the oldest villages in Moravia and a place renowned for its active preservation of traditions such as the Easter fertility festival. The resulting segment of film has a timeless quality, at times recalling the work of early twentieth century anthropologists.
In the second sequence, Bušková's lavish aesthetic and fragmented storytelling generate a personal folklore that looks forward while paying tribute to past customs. In this part of Spring Equinox, the archetypal characters of Winter and Spring, taken from Moravian fables, are incarnated by two women in a series of tableaux vivants. With its outdoor setting and ingenious use of reflected sunlight and natural elements, Spring Equinox reminds us that rather than being products of culture alone, folkloric traditions have their origins in the convergence of society and nature.
The rituals that inspire Bušková's work have been absorbed into contemporary Czech society as playful and familiar practices, but their ostensible innocence belies an origin in pagan celebrations and a fundamental erotic charge. Implements such as the pomlázka, a willow and ribbon whip with which boys beat young girls' legs in order to chase the negative energies of winter, are vestiges of the sexualised practices that have evolved into contemporary mannered rituals. Likewise, traditional dress does not hold its power from its pleasing aesthetics alone; it is also imbued with meaning and a symbolic capacity to facilitate the transition from a season of struggle and scarcity to one of rebirth and abundance. Bušková draws attention to this subtext by mirroring rituals performed by the people of Ratiškovice with her own stylised fantasies.
Bušková provides her performers with a basic framework of sketched-out scenarios, costumes and props with which to improvise and play out their own ideas. This relaxed and open-ended approach leads to new interpretations of particular traditions, which the artist combines with a sensitive regard for contemporary manifestations of ritual in her native Czech Republic.