Milada Kučerová

* 1946  

  • “Do you remember Palach and the year 1969, that gradual surrender of a united resistance against the occupation? – “Those were terrible times. I’d say that the Normalization period devastated our souls. In my opinion, people in the 1950s were brave and they fought. But during Normalization, the Czech soul was all corrupt and destroyed. Sometimes it chokes me up when I see this dragging on to this day. How the human soul has been unable to emerge from that decay for one, two generations… that it takes so long.” – “You mean to dig ourselves out of the Normalization…” – “Yeah.”

  • “Professor Patočka died and since we had been doing these sessions, philosophy seminars, we of course went to his funeral. Naturally, they called us in afterwards and pretty much closed us down. Both my husband and I. I couldn’t work in a group anymore, neither for theatre nor for the movies. I thought about what I was going to do. I had already had my children and I always used to make toys for them, so I started making toys, even larger objects. Either people who came here bought it, or embassies bought it for their private collections.” – “You started doing that in the 1970s?” – “Yes, in the 1970s.” – “Was it enough to make a living?” – “I also cleaned, that was my basic income, in Pragensia and in the Culture Research Institute, both kind of obscure organizations.”

  • “They used to call me in for questioning but I loathed them so much that I always refused to sign the statement. During every interrogation I just sat there and clammed up.” – “Why did they call you in?” – “Because of the magazine. And then it leaked out that something had been going on at Pavel’s cottage too, so they did a house search in our absence which was revealed by our neighbor, this old lady. Because they had been incautious and moved the curtain and she noticed that there were strangers in our apartment. Then they took Rudolf away.” – “This interest of the State Security, the disgrace of the family…” – “It lasted up until 1989.”

  • “A committee was set for a certain date and, together with other colleagues, we would bring our work and the committee would give its opinion on it. I remember I made some dolls and they didn’t like how the materials were connected, because they were so rigid. If it was wood, it had to be wood only, if textile, then just textile. There couldn’t be a shiny ribbon on a doll made out of natural materials. Their ideas were so rigid. By being in the design section, with toys falling under that category as well, they also dwelled on the toy’s functionality. Those weird plaster dolls of mine could never pass.”

  • “We lived together [with father Kamil Pixa – one of the founders of State Security]. If I can be brutally honest, I remember how much I loved my dad’s polished officer boots. I was three years old. I remember they squeaked. And I loved squeaky shoes. And only much later… you know, after a long time... there was the awakening.” – “What was the rude awakening? Figuring out what your dad did?” – “Figuring out what the boots meant.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 14.04.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 01:25:39
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha Eye Direct, 14.04.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 01:25:39
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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The ideological surveillance was in people’s minds

Kučerová Milada, 2015
Kučerová Milada, 2015
photo: Eye Direct

Artist and designer Milada Kučerová was born December 19, 1946 in Prague. Her father Kamil Pixa, who had been imprisoned during the war for his participation in the resistance movement, was one of the leading officers of the emerging State Security after the war, where he worked until 1952. Later he worked in the film industry and became director of Prague Short Film. Milada’s parents separated in 1953 or 1954. The witness graduated from Jan Neruda grammar school in Hellichova street and subsequently studied at the DAMU Department of Puppet Theatre in Prague. At the beginning of the Normalization period, she accepted her father’s offer to work as a puppet artist for three movies produced by the Jiří Trnka studio. At the same time, she worked as a scenographer and artist for small theatres. However, these activities came to an end after she and her husband Rudolf Kučera attended the funeral of professor Jan Patočka in 1977. Ever since then they were under the surveillance of the State Security. For that reason, Milada worked as a cleaning lady and freelance toy designer. Together with her husband they published a samizdat magazine called Central Europe since mid-1980s. Following the 1989 revolution, she was able to exhibit again.