“The ground is full of hopscotch courts, each of a different shape that offers a possible life-story. Which court does your life fit in?” In her practice, which spans drawing, video, and poetry, artist Adéla Součková imagines and connects the past and the present, life and death, architecture and natural landscapes, women and wombs, historical references and childhood memories through a simple yet prophetic lens: the hopscotch. Like so many forms of individual and collective practices, the popular playground game, where you jump a certain pattern drawn on the ground, can be traced back to ancient times. Today it is known across the world under many names and can be found in countless variations with different patterns, forms, and rules.
For V/A, Součková has created a poetic essay, sharing insights into her examination of the hopscotch as well as her own practice. The result, which features text and images, introduces a tender language including the emotional as much as the sciences, tracing the past to build alternative narratives of shared histories and possible futures.
Součková‘s essay is embedded in context of V/A’s ongoing thematic cluster “Crafts“; how forms of private or collective practices located on the periphery – like Součková‘s examination of the hopscotch – are often considered and read outside the discourse on art (history), although they offer unique knowledge and transnational cultural memory.
Whether I turn out to be the heroine of my own life, or whether that position will be occupied by someone else, this diagram must show.
To begin with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born on the first square, then kept hopping until my death, which is usually placed in the head.
Then I hopped back.
The ground is full of hopscotch courts, each of a different shape that offers a possible life-story. Which court does your life fit in? Hop through it back and forth.
Create a court to your liking. Hop it. Draw another one, which suits your life story better than the previous. Hop through it.
Imagine what you would like the world around you and your life to be like.
And then picture the steps to be drawn for it, draw them, hop through them.
What was before you is now behind you. Realize that by hopping through them, you have made the steps happen.
Everything’s changed. Start anew.
Hammer wooden pegs into the ground and connect them with strings.
Close your eyes, open your mouth, hop.
I watch my classmates play skip-the-rope to the Czech nursery rhyme “happiness / sadness / love / marriage / flower / baby / death.” What kind of life-story is this? Must it repeat itself?
Children also jump hopscotch courts called From Hell to Heaven (Himmel und Hölle), From the Earth to the Sky (Rayuela, Marelle).
They use nursery rhymes about magpies, following an old superstition according to which the number of magpies seen tells one whether they will have bad or good luck.
There is a spiral-like diagram connecting all the cities in France with the word “lion” in their names; a drawing of a giant in the field of grass in Dorset; huge animals and spirals in the desert in Chile, the famous Nazca and many others drawings in a map and landscape. In some interpretations, they are seen as heliports for aliens, mystical diagrams to access sacred knowledge, illustrations of fairy tales.
Why is there such curiosity regarding their purpose, relevance, and meaning – is this what brings together the thinking of children, lunatics, and mystics?
The cathedral has a ground plan in the shape of a cross or a human body, with a circular labyrinth in its middle. It has been believed that the shape of the hopscotch court changed due to the spread of monotheistic Christianity from a snail-shell-shaped court–with reference to the labyrinth in Crete–to the one resembling the human body.
A Jungian psychologist may interpret it as a switch from the circular shape traditionally associated with the sacred notions of nature and woman to a cross shape associated with monotheism and patriarchy. As the hero enters the labyrinth, he kills the monster within himself.
I’m drawing hopscotch courts in the shapes of women on the ground. You enter them through their wombs. You fear they will devour you. You name and conceptualize your life to defend yourself against the ungraspable.
Bondaged body. The rope represents fear, its strain releases tension of mind. Write a word or a character in each square created by the rope on the skin. You arrive at a diagram. There is something golem-like in them.
Hopscotch courts are external memory drives.
Everything is a point between the sky and the earth. Choose one thing from many to avoid a vertigo of unbounded space. Curse, pray three times, take a shit, walk a little, throw a rock on the ground, the rock connects you with sky and earth.
You feel the rock. You feel the space around the rock. You feel the space inside you, you feel the stone within you. You draw a circle around the stone, that is how divination starts. You consult the world. If you want to know the future, it will affect your present. If you ask about your present or past, this will affect your future. Draw squares till you run out of questions.
Seen by satellites, you become a node in their coordinates. Your movements are data. From the information available in the skies, foresee your next step. Draw a hopscotch court, with an unguessable path. Roll the dice. Divination is reverse surveillance.
You write numbers. One for the earth, two for the sky, three for me, four for everyone, five for the omen, six for the dawn, seven for the rainbow, eight for the night.
Utter your saying. Say it backwards.
Hop in, throw a pebble in a square, calculate everything that’s supposed to happen in life in six or eight words.
You re-draw them endlessly, hop them endlessly.
“The hopscotch of the living is not something that will be. If there is one, it is what is already here, the hopscotch court we live in everyday, that we make by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the hopscotch court, and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the hopscotch, are not hopscotch, then make them endure, give them space.” (After Marco Polo, Invisible Cities)
This hopscotch court is a final location in the landscape.
Navigation stops. They have put a stone on you.
The last square to walk through: the grave.
Hop on different squares, on each of which you place a loaf of bread or a stone. Add them up and compare the amounts.
Translation: David Vichnar